Is Jfk Out Of Control?

Discussion in 'American Airlines' started by AAquila, Dec 3, 2003.

  1. AAquila

    AAquila Senior

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    These two articles have prompted me to ask is JFK safe? As recently as last week numerous JFK FSCs have been arrested, although AA is not mentioned in the NYT article, the names are all too familiar.

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    Defendants in Drug Ring and Still Behind in Rent - NYT

    By ROBERT F. WORTH

    Published: November 27, 2003

    One of them was chronically behind on his $1,150-a-month rent. Another lived with a girlfriend who has been on welfare for six years. At least one lived with his parents, and most of the others rented unadorned middle-class apartments in outer Queens or Brooklyn.

    All of them, prosecutors said Tuesday, are accused of helping to smuggle hundreds of pounds of cocaine and marijuana a year through Kennedy International Airport, in what federal officials have called one of the largest and longest-running criminal enterprises of its kind. The smuggling ring, which the police say included 20 airport luggage and cargo handlers and their accomplices, moved such large quantities of cocaine that agents called their investigation Operation Snowstorm.

    Relatives and neighbors of the men expressed shock at the accusations yesterday, saying they never saw any outward sign of the profits the men are suspected of making through the international drug trade.

    "If he is getting all this money, why are we suffering like this?" said Claudette Rampasard, who lives with Junior Barnett, one of the men, and takes care of the couple's two children in a cramped $875-a-month apartment in Jamaica, Queens.

    Behind their workaday routines, the men clearly were bringing home large amounts of cash, one law enforcement official said yesterday. One of the suspects, Selwyn Smith, had a safe in his home in St. Albans, Queens, with more than $400,000 in it, the official said. Another had more than $20,000 at his home, the official added.

    Along with the cash, agents seized five handguns and four vehicles in connection with the arrests Tuesday, including a Mercedes-Benz and two late-model BMW's.

    The smuggling case has raised questions about airline security. Federal officials said Tuesday that all the defendants had passed background checks, which have stiffened since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    But federal prosecutors said yesterday that one of the defendants who is accused of helping mastermind the operation, Erroldo Weatherly, had several convictions on his record, including one for assault, a felony. It is not clear how Mr. Weatherly's convictions escaped scrutiny at Kennedy Airport, where a felony record is supposed to bar workers from secure areas.

    All the men arrested in the operation were Caribbean immigrants and were a close-knit group much like some Italian-American criminal organizations, the law enforcement official said. They appear to have spent some of their money partying and sent some home to the Caribbean, the official said.

    "We believe we have some offshore accounts," the official said.

    One of the men, Gary Lall, who went by the nickname Indian, became aware last week that he was being pursued, several days before the arrest, the official said. "We had a chopper above him, and you can hear his voice on the tape saying: `I know they're on me. I wish they'd just pick me now,' " the official said.

    Altogether, 25 men are charged with conspiracy to import controlled substances, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $4 million fine.

    Two of the defendants, Mr. Lall and Cleveland Green, were arraigned Tuesday before Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom in Federal District Court in Brooklyn and released on bail of $750,000 and $500,000, respectively. At least seven others had been freed on bail as of last night.

    Dennis Johnson and Rafael Rodriguez proclaimed their innocence yesterday as they emerged to greet their families after being released on bail. Erroldo Weatherly's father, also called Erroldo Weatherly, said his son was not involved.

    It was clear for years that a smuggling ring was operating at the airport, a second law enforcement official said, but agents were not able to break it until they caught a baggage handler who then began cooperating with them.

    "We have a nucleus of informants now," the official said. "We take this very seriously, especially after 9/11. Today it's narcotics, tomorrow it could be explosives."

    The ringleader of the smuggling ring, prosecutors have said, was Michael Adams, 32, a baggage handler with Globe Ground North American who was also known as Big Man and Bowser.

    Mr. Adams lived with his wife and two children in a two-bedroom apartment in Cambria Heights, a middle-class Queens neighborhood. His landlord, George Dorvil, said yesterday that Mr. Adams seemed like a quiet, hard-working family man, with no apparent bad habits and few guests. He was always behind on rent but never failed to pay and was polite and friendly, Mr. Dorvil said.

    "This guy has been living a simple life," Mr. Dorvil said as he stared in wonder at the simple two-story white house with black trim that he shared, until yesterday, with Mr. Adams. "I've never even seen him well dressed." Robert Moore, a lawyer for Mr. Adams, declined to comment on the charges yesterday.

    A few of the other defendants occasionally showed signs of unusual wealth. One defendant, Gladstone Whyte, lived in a two-story house in Springfield Gardens, Queens, that is the nicest on the block, with stone lions and a golden-painted mailbox.

    Others do not appear to have shared their bounty with anyone. Junior Barnett often went gambling with friends, but sometimes had so little money left over that he had trouble paying the rent, said his girlfriend, Ms. Rampasard, who is unemployed and on welfare.

    And Mr. Weatherly was often forced to borrow money, said Jasmine Lily, 24, a family friend who said she loaned him $50 several times. "He's poor, very poor," she said. "You would think someone like that would be living extravagantly, but from what I saw, he was living paycheck to paycheck."

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    Procedures Less Stringent For Airport Ramp Workers
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    By Sylvia Adcock
    STAFF WRITER

    September 8, 2003

    It's one of the most sensitive jobs at an airport: the overnight cleaning of a jetliner's cabin before the first flight out, a task that at most airlines entails that final check to make sure no weapons or bombs have been hidden on board the plane.

    But in recent months, contract workers had been allowed to perform those jobs even though they had not completed background checks and are not required by federal law to be checked for weapons before entering the plane. Flight crews for American Airlines at Kennedy Airport became concerned enough about the contract workers that on more than one occasion they called in airport police to check the plane for weapons before they would fly it.

    While the visible aspects of security may be reassuring to passengers, the other side of the airport is a different matter. "It creates an illusion that we're doing everything we can. What passengers see is a very thorough search," said Dawn Deeks, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants. "We see behind the scenes at the airport, and the back door is wide open."

    Despite dramatic improvements in passenger and baggage screening since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, troubling gaps remain outside the terminal at the nation's airports. Although the background checks now have been completed on the contract cabin cleaners, federal rules continue to allow temporary workers access to planes without background checks, provided they are escorted by an authorized employee. In the case of the crews at Kennedy, an American employee said he observed the workers unescorted, but an airline said the workers were always escorted.

    At most airports across the country, airport workers on what's known in the industry as the the airside, or ramp - where fueling, catering, cleaning, maintenance of aircraft takes place - are never screened for weapons or explosives. And the security system on the ramp is highly dependent on the workers themselves, with employees expected to challenge anyone not displaying the required badge. But some are reluctant to approach someone up to no good. "Some of the guys say, 'I understand about security, but I'm not a cop,'" said one airline mechanic who works at Kennedy.

    Last month, a representative of a major pilots group met with a top official from the Transportation Security Administration to complain about unscreened workers. "He said they would need thousands more screeners," said Paul Onorato, vice president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations. "You're up there taking off your shoes and they're going through your underwear. Meanwhile, people are coming to work with duffel bags and lunchboxes and no one's checking."

    The federal government says the background checks, which go back 10 years and disqualify anyone convicted of a laundry list of crimes, are sufficient. "We know a lot about those individuals," Stephen McHale, deputy administrator of the TSA, told a congressional committee in May when a lawmaker raised the issue of airport and airline workers who don't go through security checkpoints. Indeed, the background checks have intensified in the past two years - before the terrorist attacks only those workers with certain triggers in their backgrounds would get a criminal records check. Access points at airports were immediately tightened after the Sept. 11 attacks as well.

    But how easy it is to get on to the ramp varies from airport to airport. At some places, workers punch in a code on a keypad; at others, they swipe their badge. Guards watching the access points in some cases are not federal security workers or airport police but from private security firms.

    In Miami, airport officials in 1999 began screening all airport workers with access to the ramp after the "ramp rats" scandal led to the arrest of dozens of employees on charges of smuggling weapons and drugs on aircraft. Today, employees who go to the ramp there walk through a metal detector and their belongings are X-rayed before they report to work.

    "We realized you can have people who have ... background checks and still go bad," said a Miami Airport official who asked not to be identified.

    That screening doesn't happen in most airports around the country, including New York, and it makes the situation with the contract cabin cleaners all the more troubling.

    Last spring, American and its unions agreed to a multimillion-dollar concession package to keep the carrier out of bankruptcy court. Included in that deal was the contracting out of all overnight cabin cleaning jobs around the country. At the same time, another major airline, United, reached a similar agreement with its unions, contracting out all cabin cleaning jobs at certain locations.

    At Kennedy, the contract workers for American had not undergone the necessary background checks but were allowed into the sensitive areas of the airport earlier this summer under escort by a worker with authorized access, at a ratio of one escort per five workers. But an airline employee who asked not to be identified said he saw the contract workers on the ramp with no escort on several occasions. American disputes that. "They were escorted at all times," said American spokesman Tim Wagner.

    In one case in mid-June, the flight crew of a departing American flight learned about the lack of escort, and Port Authority police were brought in for another sweep of the plane. "There was supposed to be an escort, we were told that hadn't happened," said the captain of the flight crew. The pilot, who asked not to be identified, said he also became concerned about the adequacy of the security checks because the contractors were doing a poor job of cleaning the plane.

    Wagoner said all rules were followed. "For at least a month now all our contract cleaners have completed background checks," he said. "This is a Port Authority policy as much as anything else."

    An official with the contractor, Queens-based Airway Cleaning, referred questions to another official who could not be reached yesterday.

    Greg Trevor, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the agency contacted the contractor and told them to get background checks for the employees. "As soon as we became aware of this contract, we spoke to them and told them to get into compliance immediately ... They came into compliance."

    Airline employees say that the contractor now appears to be performing adequately.

    Billie Vincent, a former security director for the Federal Aviation Administration who now helps airports around the world design security systems, said he has no problem with the uncleared workers being escorted onto the plane - but only to clean it. "If there is close supervision, that's OK," he said. "But I do have a problem if you're letting those people do the aircraft search. That's a problem."

    Vincent said it is difficult to screen ramp workers for weapons because some of them need certain tools that can be used as weapons for their jobs. "There is, in reality, no such thing as a sterile area on the ramp," he said.

    But Vincent said when his consulting group designs systems for other airports, they try to develop a way to search everyone going into a restricted area. "There are major airports outside the U.S. where they screen vehicles crossing over from landside to airside."

    In fact, the federal law that created the TSA and tightened regulations on passenger and baggage screening directs the government to screen everyone coming in "a secured area of an airport." But the law, passed in November 2001, says only that it should be done "as soon as practicable."

    From its inception, the TSA's resources have been concentrated on screening people and things that enter the sterile area of a concourse, the boarding gate areas of the terminal. "Our core mission is to establish and operate passenger and baggage screening checkpoints," said TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield. Hatfield said TSA inspectors do check on ramp security and have in some cases levied fines against airports or contractors who weren't following the rules.

    "We are putting our resources toward one portion of the airport," said Deeks, the flight attendants union official. "We are acting like terrorists are only going to attack in one way."

    Safer Skies?

    A summary of steps taken by the government and airline industry to protect

    the nation's planes and airports in the two years since the Sept. 11, 2001,

    terror attacks. Some goals remain unrealized.

    Passenger screening

    COMPLETE: Federal screeners with higher pay and better training screen passengers for weapons at airports nationwide; government met November 2002 deadline.

    INCOMPLETE: Passengers are not routinely screened for explosives and most airport workers with access to sterile areas outside the airport terminal are not screened.

    CHECKED BAGGAGE

    COMPLETE: Thousands of explosive detection machines deployed; government

    met Dec. 31, 2002, deadline to screen checked bags.

    INCOMPLETE: Many airports still are relying on hand searches or bomb-sniffing

    dogs to keep bombs off planes as they struggle to install a screening system that

    is part of the baggage-checking process.

    ARMED PILOTS

    COMPLETE: Under congressional mandate, government launched program in July to train volunteer pilots to carry firearms on board.

    INCOMPLETE: Some pilots say the program is moving too slowly, and the

    number of air marshals on flights still is too small.

    COCKPIT DOORS

    COMPLETE: Bulletproof, fortified cockpit doors were installed on all passenger aircraft; airlines met the April 2002 deadline.

    INCOMPLETE: Doors still are opened in flight when pilots have to use the bathroom, which some experts say creates a vulnerability.

    CARGO

    COMPLETE: Government and industry have tightened security on freight carried on cargo and passenger airlines.

    INCOMPLETE: Most cargo still is not screened for explosives or biological and chemical weapons.

    Still Concerned

    A Newsday/NY1 poll conducted Sept. 2-3 revealed that many metropolitan area residents still have concerns about the safety of airline travel two years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    QUESTION: Compared to before Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, do you think

    air travel in the United States is now ...

    Long Island New York City

    Safer 45% 32%

    Less safe 12 18

    About the same 41 47

    No response 2 3

    NOTE: Poll of 508 New York City residents and 506 Long Islanders was conducted by Blum & Weprin Associates. Margin of error is 4.5 percent.

    Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.

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    This article originally appeared at:
    http://www.nynewsday.com/news/local/manhat...0,7514916.story
     
  2. NewHampshire Black Bears

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    AAquila;
    I agree with your post, "Is JFK out of control".

    Perhaps a different way of putting it, would be, "JFK has NEVER been properly managed"

    Kennedy is a VERY unique station. Although NOT a hub, it has always presented the "GENIOUS'S" at HDQ with Hub like situations.

    When HEAVY "S##T" goes down, It's either at JFK, or MIA.
    Because MIA is a hub, extra planning/security goes into effect.

    It's so easy for some flunkie at HDQ in DF & W to draw up"one size fit's all plans" (on paper) for all the hubs, plus "A" stations like JFK,LAX,BOS, and expect it to work.

    In reality, DFW ORD SJC STL are like "choir boy" stations, compared to places like JFK, BOS, & MIA

    With ALL the hundreds of daily Flts. that DFW ORD and MIA turn out , NO STATION comes anywhere close to the Heavy, long distance lift, that Kennedy tuns out.

    Unfortunately, with all that "action", comes a unique set of potential problems.

    But the BIGGEST problem is, that (some of the MORON'S) at HDQ don't have a clue !!!!!!!!!!!

    NH/BB's
     
  3. JFK777

    JFK777 Veteran

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    NEW HAMPSHIRE BLACK BEAR IS ONE OF THE FEW ON THIS BOARD THAT APPRECIATES JFK'S TRUE UNIQUE CHARACTER.

    With 6 777 daily to LHR, 777 daily to NRT and other International Flagship service to GRU, EZE, CDG, FCO and some other points JFK contributes to AA and American aviation in ways people in peoria just don't realy understand. MIA, LAX & JFK are members of a unique club of 3 in the USA that handle mostly international traffic with lots of Cargo. While JFK also has a large operation to the Caribean, this is mostly point to point, VFR and New Yorker going to the isalnds. California also plays a big slice in the JFK pie. JFK is America's United Nations of airports. It's the only place in the world to have Concorde service continously for the planes entire 27 year run. It's the only place in the world an airline has its own terminal on foreign soil, British Airways has that cake and eats it too. Could you imagine if Pan Am had it own terminal at LHR, the British would have had a heart attack, UAL naturaly would has inhertited such an arrangement. Today Terminal 1 at JFK is run by four foreign airlines for their own needs( plus some other tenants) AF, JL, Korean & Lufthansa got a sweetheart deal too, I can't blame them though the IAD was a disgrace. You have to love America, a foreign airline can have a better deal then the hometown airline if they want to pay for it. I doubt at LHR, NRT, CDG, FRA, HKG, SIN, or SYD such an arrangement would ever be tolerated at any price bya foreignor.
     
  4. NewHampshire Black Bears

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    JFK777,
    It's not only the good folks in peoria(PIA), that don't understand about Kennedy.

    Try DFW. !!!

    NH/BB's
     
  5. JFK777

    JFK777 Veteran

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    AA should move its world headquarters back to a world city, NEW YORK. Dallas is great for international flights to Mexico. It is time to think beyond the borders of Texas.
     
  6. orwell

    orwell Advanced

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    In all your hate-riddled rants against, apparently, anyone and everyone at HDQ/DFW, you haven't once given an example or otherwise explained how their woeful under-appreciation of JFK is linked to losers who smuggle drugs while on the job.

    Also, since you're apparently the genius who could properly run JFK, how about some suggestions rather than vague sniping at the "morons" at HDQ?

    While you're at it, mayhap you and JFK777 could explain how the problem of distance between a key city and an airline's HDQ can best be solved. I mean, an airline, by it's nature, involves far-flung operations. HDQ has to be somewhere - and I'm guessing you'd die before giving evil mgmt. credit for the enormous savings that come from having HDQ in a city that doesn't price-gouge on real estate. I know, I know - all those savings were - gasp - poured back into silly things like expanding infrastructure rather than fattening your paycheck, so they don't count.

    Hey - if HDQ were moved to NYC, it'd be further from LAX - another key city. What's your point? Would all drug-dealing workers vanish in JFK, only to spring up in LAX? Should George Bush pack it in and move the White House and the nation's capitol to NYC?

    The bottom line is having competent managers and workers on the front lines is the factor that determines whether this garbage or not happens. It has nothing to do with which city HDQ is in.
     
  7. Cosmo

    Cosmo Veteran

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    Sorry, that's not correct. LHR is "the only place in the world to have Concorde service continously for the planes entire 27 year run." This is because the first six months or so of BA and AF Concorde service to the United States was operated to only Washington/Dulles (IAD) since New York prohibited the aircraft from operating at JFK due to its excessive noise. Eventually that ban was lifted, although I don't remember whether it was by a court order or DOT ruling.
     
  8. whatkindoffreshhell

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    orwell -- hear hear -- well said!

    As for Cosmo -- didn't Concorde also fly to Paris for 27 years too? (give the guy a break, he was just trying to make a point!!!)

    Pretty amazing that these JFK drug runners operated for so long and nobody noticed or heard nuthin!

    And didn't AA have their HDQ in NYC until that venerable C.S. fellow moved the whole thing to Dallas?
     
  9. orwell

    orwell Advanced

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    Thanks.

    You're right - in 1979 American moved its headquarters from New York City to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, although CR Smith was gone by then. The new headquarters complex also included The Learning Center, a training facility; the Flight Academy, the pilot training facility, and the Southern Reservations Office. I guess the fact that all of those functions were close to HDQ aren't as important to some than the fact that DFW is a whole three hour flight distant from NYC! This move was done, in part, to lower costs.

    And, for the record, I'm not a Texas native - in fact was born in NYC. I'm not saying DFW is God's gift to aviation, only that it made more sense as an HDQ than NYC. By the way, NYC still has the most elite and important sales/promotions
    team within the company, and they remain based in NYC.
     
  10. JFK777

    JFK777 Veteran

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    Cosmo,

    Your right, the Concorde didn't fly to JFK in the very begining but it was still the only airport in North America to have service by the plane most of its life and the only airport in the world to have service by the two Concorde airlines for 25 years. IAD wad served by AF & BA but AF hasn't flown to IAD with Concorde for years.


    Orwell,

    AA has operations worldwide, having all those different functions in Dallas is a good idea since people have to fly from all over the country to use them. Those functions could be in Dallas and HDQ in New York or Los Angeles or even Miami. While most airlines have their HDQ near a hub it doesn't have to be, HDQ should be closer to the financial and political centers of either Coast. California, New York, Boston or Virginia would be ideal locations. Hey housing in Virginia is affordable, lots of people on government pay.
     
  11. AAmech

    AAmech Veteran

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    Al Casey was the one who moved HDQ to Ft. Worth. Not Dallas. The funny thing about it was NY Mayor Ed Koch had appointed him to a committie whos job was to find ways to keep companies in New York City. The whole time he's plotting his own company's defection!!!
    And just flush all those thoughts of AA moving back to NYC. Its just NEVER going to happen. Companies don't move TO NY they move AWAY from NY!! Unless your business is in Finance the place just SUCKS to do business there, which is why AA left in the first place!
    And for the record I too was born in NYC.
     
  12. JFK777

    JFK777 Veteran

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    AAmech, it may stink to do business in NYC but JFK is the only airport we fly 6 777 daily to one destination, LHR. I would find it hard to build a case you could fill 6 777 at DFW to London ( poor DFW, Its Gatwicked), even with all their feed. All those rich bankers or their firms pay for club class, that type of market doesn't exist in anywhere but New York or Los Angeles with the hollywood types. Lets face the fact New York and Los Angeles are unique markets in the whole of the Americas.

    Only certain cities in the world have theis type of yield, among them LHR, NRT, CDG, FRA, HKG, SIN, SYD, LAX, JFK , BOS, ORD & JNB. Lots of long-haul flights are neccesary for this type of operation, airlines like BA, Virgin and SIA. The traditional USA hub model of ATL, DFW, CVG, DTW & PHL don't create these yields.
     
  13. AAmech

    AAmech Veteran

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    Don't think I don't appreciate what JFK delivers! NY alone has around 8mil people in it. The "catchment" area for JFK must be over 10mil!! And its mostly the very profitable O&D type!!!
     
  14. orwell

    orwell Advanced

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    No one's arguing that NYC is not the most important SINGLE market in the system. But, that doesn't mean it would be a better hub - or a better HDQ site.

    Certainly there is way more demand there to go to London - and anywhere else in Europe, than at DFW. But, that's mostly point-to-point demand, which is great.

    DFW is good at consolidating connecting demand - not all of that demand can be flown over JFK. Even CO, which has a real hub in NYC, still relies on IAH for satisfying connecting demand - and even to LGW.

    If you do it right, you can have the best of both worlds - connecting traffic and the high yield local traffic in markets like NYC that warrant specialized point-to-point service, bypassing hubs.
     
  15. mrman

    mrman Senior

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    Another reason to stay in Dallas is quality of life for employees(HDQ, Pilots, FA's Ground) . $200,000 can get you a 2200 sq foot new house with dog and a yard 5 minutes from work with no state or city income tax and lower cost of living without much snow. Although there is August!
     

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