Permitting knives, however small, in hand luggage will make passengers unsafe, two top US airlines have told a federal agency after its announcement to permit such equipment inside planes from April 25.
"The announcement this past week to begin allowing certain knives back into the cabins of commercial aircraft is of concern to us and we ask you to reconsider this decision," US Airways CEO Doug Parker wrote to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole in a letter.
TSA, responsible for airport security in the US, had announced that it will allow as carry-on luggage small pocket knives with non-locking blades smaller than 2.36 inches and less than 0.5 inch, small novelty bats and toy bats, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, billiard cues and golf clubs (limit two).
Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson also wrote a similar letter to TSA, according to The Hill newspaper.,"We continue to support a risk-based approach to security.
However, we must object to the agency decision to allow small knives back in the aircraft cabin.
These items have been banned for more than 11 years and will add little value to the customer security process flow in relation to the additional risk for our cabin staff and customers," Anderson wrote.
According to Parker, this kind of policy amendment is "most effective when conducted in a collaborative way with the airlines". "We also understand and support the risk-based assessment employed by the TSA. However, this review and policy amendment process is most effective when it is conducted in a collaborative way with the airlines and their flight crews," Parker wrote.
Several lawmakers led by Congressman Bennie Thompson, Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security, along with Eric Swalwell and Michael Grimm, announced that they will send a formal bipartisan letter to Pistole raising serious objections regarding his recent decision.
"This decision appears to have been made without formal engagement with stakeholders impacted by this policy, including those most likely to come into contact with someone possessing a knife on a plane - flight crew-members and air marshals," the lawmakers said in a joint statement.
"I am concerned by TSA's decision to modify its prohibited items list and allow knives and other carry-ons that can be used as weapons, through airport security. Developing policies in a vacuum that will impact millions of passengers and thousands of front-line workers is a disservice to the American public," Thompson said.
The lawmakers alleged that the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, which has played a role in the development of security policy in the past, was also not consulted.
TSA said that the new policy aligns it more closely with international standards and allows it to better focus on finding higher threat items such as explosives.