Two top House Democrats urged the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday to take steps to prevent the use of aircraft to ferry people intending to disrupt the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Hours after the message was sent, Southwest Airlines said 95 passengers and six crew members had been evacuated from a flight to Baltimore / Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport from Phoenix after the crew identified a written threat upon its arrival earlier this evening.
Southwest did not give details of the warrant or threat, and said no arrests were reported.
Actor Peter DeFazio, who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Representative Rick Larsen who oversees a subcommittee on aviation, urged Federal Aviation Administration Director Steve Dickson in a letter cited by Reuters for the first time “to reduce the opportunity for the country’s commercial airline system to be used as mass transit to Washington, DC, for more violence regarding the inauguration “on January 20 and for preventing civil unrest from endangering flight safety and causing injury or worse during flight.”
“We respectfully urge the Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation community to think creatively about identifying additional powers or measures that will reduce the likelihood of unruly and disruptive behavior on board aircraft over the next nine days as well as disobedient behavior who exploit freedom of flight to carry out operations mentioned in the letter.” Democracy. “
The Federal Aviation Administration said it would respond directly to lawmakers.
On Saturday, Dickson pledged to take “robust enforcement action” against unruly passengers after reports of supporters of US President Donald Trump disrupting flights from Washington after rioters stormed the US Capitol.
“The Federal Aviation Administration will continue strict enforcement actions against anyone who endangers the safety of the flight, with penalties ranging from financial end to imprisonment,” Dickson said.
Numerous videos of unruly behavior were released aboard the Washington flights, including an American Airlines flight to Phoenix where the pilot threatened to turn to “Central Kansas and Dump People”.
A trade group representing major US airlines said it “will continue to work cooperatively with these authorities and our industry partners to provide a safe flight for passengers and employees.”
The Flight Attendant Union urged airlines to prevent supporters of Trump who stormed the Capitol from leaving Washington on commercial flights after they demonstrated “mob-minded behavior” on flights to the area.
Alaska Airlines said on Friday it had banned 14 passengers from future travel after “unacceptable” behavior on a flight from Washington to Seattle.
US airlines and law enforcement agencies have already enhanced security at Washington-area airports.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was harassed Friday by Trump supporters and branded him a “traitor” at Washington’s Reagan National Airport before departing on a flight, according to videos posted on social media.
Separately, Representative Benny Thompson, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, and Representative John Katko, the most senior Republican on the committee, asked the Transportation Security Administration about their efforts to disrupt travel for “domestic terrorist groups that may plan more attacks and may target inauguration next week.”