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Cablegate: Flights Grounded a Second Time in Three Days At

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

172044Z Feb 04

UNCLAS MONTREAL 000252

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR S/ES-O, WHA/CAN AND CA/OCS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.0. 12958:N/A
TAGS: EAIR ASEC CASC CA
SUBJECT: FLIGHTS GROUNDED A SECOND TIME IN THREE DAYS AT
PIERRE ELLIOTT TRUDEAU AIRPORT; BUT DOMESTIC FLIGHTS ONLY

REF: MONTREAL 0233

1. SUMMARY. DOMESTIC OUTBOUND FLIGHTS WERE GROUNDED,
DELAYED OR RECALLED TO PIERRE ELLIOTT TRUDEAU AIRPORT (AKA
DORVAL AIRPORT) FOR THE SECOND TIME IN THREE DAYS. THE
INCIDENT THAT PROMPTED THE SEALING OF THE JETTY OCCURRED AT
APPROXIMATELY 9:05AM ON SATURDAY (FEB. 14) AND LASTED ABOUT
FIVE HOURS. NORMAL OPERATIONS DIDN'T RESUME UNTIL CLOSE TO
2:00PM. UNLIKE REFTEL INCIDENT (FEB.11), ACCORDING TO A
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS) SUPERVISOR, U.S.-BOUND
FLIGHTS (FEB. 14) WERE NOT DISRUPTED. END SUMMARY.

2. A PISTOL-SHAPED CIGARETTE LIGHTER DISRUPTED DOMESTIC
FLIGHTS (2/14) AT DORVAL AIRPORT. A CANADIAN AIR TRANSPORT
SAFETY AUTHORITY (CATSA) AGENT REPORTED HAVING SPOTTED ON
THE X-RAY OF A CARRYON BAG AN OBJECT RESSEMBLING A PISTOL.
REPORTEDLY, BY THE TIME THE CATSA AGENT CHECKING BAGS WAS
ADVISED BY ANOTHER AGENT WHAT HAD BEEN SEEN ON THE X-RAY,
THE BAG AND ITS OWNER HAD DISAPPEARED INTO THE DOMESTIC
TERMINAL. CONSEQUENTLY, AN ALARM WAS SOUNDED AND THE JETTY
SEALED.

3. THE OWNER OF THE BAG, A 35-YEAR OLD WOMAN BOUND FOR
CUBA, ALLEGED SHE WASN'T AWARE THAT THE OBJECT IN HER
CARRYON BAG WAS ILLEGAL.

4. WHILE REFTEL SECURITY BREACH OF TWO DAYS PRIOR RECEIVED
MINIMAL PRESS ATTENTION, THE LATEST INCIDENT MADE THE FRONT-
PAGE OF THE FRENCH-LANGUAGE AND ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPERS,
LA PRESSE AND THE MONTREAL GAZETTE, RESPECTIVELY. LA PRESSE
CITED A STATEMENT FROM A CATSA AGENT ABOUT MINIMAL TRAINING
NEW CATSA AGENTS RECEIVED PRIOR TO ASSUMPTION OF BAGGAGE
SCREENING ROLES LAST YEAR. LA PRESSE ALSO REPORTED THE
CATSA AGENT MISSED THE CIGARETTE LIGHTER BECAUSE OF BEING
DISTRACTED BY A PAIR OF SCISSORS IN ANOTHER BAG. A DHS
SUPERVISOR, BRIEFED BY AIRPORT SECURITY, DISCUSSED THE
INCIDENT WITH POST'S CONSUL GENERAL. HE CONFIRMED THAT THE
PISTOL-SHAPED CIGARETTE LIGHTER CAUSED THE ALARM, BUT WAS
UNABLE TO CONFIRM THE REPORT ABOUT WHAT HAD DISTRACTED THE
CATSA AGENT.

5. IN THE END, 45 FLIGHTS WERE DELAYED, SOME 400 PASSENGERS
AND THEIR LUGGAGE WERE RESTERILIZED (RESCREENED) AND
DOMESTIC OPERATIONS WERE DISRUPTED FOR APPROXIMATELY FIVE
HOURS.
ALLEN

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