Good afternon, and thank you for coming. The task of improving airline security is an ongoing challenge. The chief executive officers of the major U.S. airlines have been, and continue to be, in the forefront in meeting that challenge. Those CEOs have now made an important decision that it is my privilege to announce to you today. They have agreed to pay up to one million dollars for information about terrorist activities directed against any of their operations worldwide. The objective is to deter new acts of terrorism, but the reward applies to past incidents as well, such as the sabotage of Pan Am 103--a tragedy still fresh in our minds. The U.S. airline industry is committed to using every resource at its disposal to make its passengers the safest in the world, and if that means offering a bounty, we'll do it.
The reward is structured to supplement a two million dollar reward fund recently approved by Congress and administered by the State Department. ATA will match any reward the State Department makes--up to one million dollars--for information concerning criminal activities against ASTA member airlines. Three million dollars--the total combined reward--should be a powerful incentive for people within, or close to, terrorist organizations to reveal plots before they are hatched.
Acts of international terrorism are directed at governments and government policies, but airlines occasionally become surrogate targets, and innocent victims, of these crimes. So we are dedicated to doing all that we can to defend ourselves. U.S. airlines have taken a number of steps in the past year-and-a-half to tighten what was already the world's best security system. For example, they now X-ray or physically inspect all checked luggage on flights from 45 foreign airports in Europe and the Middle East. They have assigned additional security personnel to foreign airports, and have adopted more comprehensive procedures for questioning passengers as they check in. These new steps are in addition to extraordinary procedures that were in effect already--procedures to search and guard aircraft, inspect aircraft service workers, match baggage with passengers and accept baggage only from ticketed passengers.
The U.S. government also has taken important steps in recent months to assist the airlines with their security programs. For instance, at the urging of the airline industry, FAA is stationing more of its security personnel in Europe and the Middle East. The airlines continue to believe the government can, and should, do more to assist the airlines, but we believe the government is moving in the right direction.
I mention all of this to give you some perspective on the tremendous effort undertaken by industry and government over the past year to protect airline passengers, flight crews, and aircraft. We are strongly committed to making it as difficult as possible for terrorists to carry out their heinous plans. The reward we are announcing today is an additional feature to this enormous security effort. We want to do more. We mean business, and we want people to know it.
I now want to introduce several distinguished indivdiuals who have taken a personal interest in the airline reward fund and, in some cases, have played key roles in bringing the idea to fruition.
First, Ambassador Morris Busby, Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism, U.S. State Department.
Senator Frank Murkowski from the State of Alaska.
Congressman William Broomfield from the State of Michigan.
Administrator James Busey, FAA.
Assistant Director William Baker, Criminal Investigation Division, FBI.
Capt. Bruce Smith, a pilot with Pan American who lost his wife in what is probably the most infamous act of terrorism against an aircraft. Captain Smith was the first to propose the airline reward and has been the driving force behind the concept. The industry admires Captain Smith's dedication and perseverance in making this important reward a reality.