Virgin Atlantic Airways will today showcase its new ground and on-board security measures during a special flight from London to New York aimed at encouraging trade and travel between the two countries.
Following the tragic events of 11 September, Virgin Atlantic has taken steps to increase security measures on the ground as well as becoming the first European airline to significantly heighten the on-board security it provides for its pilots, cabin crew and passengers.
On-board, Virgin Atlantic is strengthening its flight deck doors by reinforcing them with Permaglass X armour plating. Developed by Permali Gloucester Limited for police and military vehicles, Permaglass X provides lightweight and fire resistant protection that is compliant with airworthiness requirements. The reinforced door is significantly strengthened and is capable of withstanding attacks by knife, hatchet and handgun fire.
As an additional measure the flight deck doors are being fitted with a steel and aluminium deadlock security bar and a CCTV system to ensure that only authorised staff gain entry to the flight deck.
All aircraft in Virgin Atlantic`s fleet will be retrofitted with all these new measures by the end of November 2001.
On the ground, the airline will be introducing a number of covert initiatives that will focus on enhancing the screening of passengers and baggage prior to take off.
Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, will demonstrate the new initiatives to London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, before a special flight from London to New York.
The flight will also carry 350 lucky winners of a competition to win free flights to New York run by Virgin Atlantic and The Sun. Passengers will also get the chance to meet with New York`s Mayor Guiliani.
Richard Branson said:
“I am delighted to be able to demonstrate our new safety initiatives on this very special flight. We have enhanced our safety operation both on the ground and in the air and, I believe, have a robust package of measures second to none.
“But it is important to realise that, wide-ranging though these initiatives may be, they are the first phase of a programme of enhanced security. We are looking at the feasibility of installing secondary flight deck doors creating an impenetrable `cordon sanitaire` to further reassure our passengers and crew that they can be certain that Virgin Atlantic leads the way in aviation security. We aim for Virgin Atlantic to have the reputation of the most secure airline in the world.
“We know from the response to the our free flights competition that British people want to fly to the US we had enough entries to fill nearly 120 aircraft let alone one and I am sure that these new security measures will help give them the confidence to do so.”
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, said:
” I welcome Virgin`s new flight deck security measures. Anything that will increase on-board security and restore the public`s confidence in transatlantic flying is welcome. All our city`s economies depend on international travel one jumbo of passengers represents #300,000 worth of expenditure and has an indirect or multiplier effect on other industries.”