Portugal has announced that it will not allow armed air marshals on flights to and from America, despite a request from the United States made amid fresh security fears about terror threats. This week, the Instituto Nacional de Aviação Civil (INAC) rejected an appeal from the authorities in Washington to put air marshals on commercial flights to and from the US, and even on planes which fly over the country.
According to Captain Joaquim Carvalho, the head of INAC: “Our organisation does not authorise the presence of firearms on passenger flights, as this could endanger the security of the aircraft.” He went on to say that INAC would prefer that a flight was cancelled in the case of a security alert, than put air marshals on the plane. According to reports, several flights have already been cancelled, for a variety of different reasons, as a precaution against terrorist threats.
Earlier this week, INAC management met with the heads of Portugal’s national airline companies, which all fly to the US, to answer questions about procedure should a security threat arise. Carvalho revealed that the Portuguese authorities believe that it is necessary to tighten security in order to “face up to the new international scene”, even though Portugal is considered to be “a low risk country in terms of a terrorist threat”.
Meanwhile, the authorities in the United States are now demanding that visitors travelling to the country under a visa must agree to have their photograph and their fingerprints taken when they enter the country.