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Continental apologises to Kalam for frisking
Published on 23 Jul. 2009 1:38 AM IST
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US carrier Continental Airlines Wednesday issued a formal apology to former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for having subjected him to frisking and even asking him to remove his footwear before boarding its flight from here three months ago. "Continental Airlines apologizes to the former president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, for any misunderstanding and/or inconvenience related to the security screening on 21-April-2009," the carrier said in a statement. "Our intention was never to offend Dr. Kalam or the sentiments of the people of India. Continental Airlines takes great pride and is honoured to have flown a respectable leader such as Dr. Kalam," the statement said. "We have tendered a formal apology to Dr. Kalam and we sincerely hope he will fly with us again." The airline also reiterated its commitment to comply with the regulations mandated by the local authorities such as the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, and US agencies like the Transportation Security Administration. The airline said while complying with such requirements, it sometimes encounters circumstances where these are not compatible. "We hope the respective government authorities resolve these differences at the earliest in order to avoid any recurrence of this situation in the future." The airline said it would also formally address the queries raised in the show cause notice issued by the Indian authorities, which it said was received only on July 20. The Indian government had reacted sharply Tuesday and also ordered an inquiry into the incident after it created waves in parliament. "The frisking was absolutely unpardonable," Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house. "Action will be taken in accordance with the sentiments of the house." His statement came after members from across the political spectrum expressed outrage over the former president being subjected to a full body check and even asked to remove his footwear as he waited on the aerobridge of the Newark-bound flight at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. "Continental Airlines has been issued a showcause notice under section 11A of the Aircraft Act for wilful violation of the law," Patel said. "The frisking or action per se was absolutely wrong. The former president and other such dignitaries are exempt from such frisking."

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