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Interview of Melanie Jones, Southwest Airlines

Aired February 7, 2002 - 14:05   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Want to bring our viewers the latest on another aviation situation. This one taking place at BWI, the airport in Baltimore, today. A security breach were passengers passed through to go for a flight with Southwest Airlines. Right now, we have on the phone with us Melanie Jones with Southwest -- Melanie, hello.

MELANIE JONES, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: Good afternoon.

KAGAN: Can you tell us what went wrong at that security checkpoint?

JONES: Well, actually, the FAA had made the decision this morning to empty the B pier because of an alleged security breach, but through the rescreening process, no breach was found to have occurred, and that B pier reopened at 1:10 Eastern time. Now, we believe that there may have been a false indication or a malfunction of the screening equipment, and that piece of equipment has been shut down, so they are not using it any more.

KAGAN: Well, I'm sure the information you had was more than just alleged security breach, what did they tell you they were looking for, what the problem was?

JONES: Actually, I have no information regarding what the problem is. I'm in the Dallas office and this occurred in Baltimore.

KAGAN: All right, so you're saying about an hour ago, everything was given the green light to go ahead.

JONES: Approx -- yes.

KAGAN: Do you know how many passengers were inconvenienced, or how backed up that is going to make Southwest flights through Baltimore?

JONES: We believe that approximately 1,500 to 2,000 customers were asked to leave the pier for rescreening, but in order to minimize their inconvenience in the rescreening process, they put them in -- they organized them in order of their departure time, so that the first people to go through the rescreening process were -- will be first ones to depart. We hope that will offer the quickest and best possible solution.

KAGAN: So once again, how long do you think the delays will be? JONES: Actually, I don't have any indication of that, but the closure of that pier was about two hours. We hope...

KAGAN: And -- go ahead.

JONES: We hope to -- we hope that our schedule will catch up slowly through the day.

KAGAN: And finally, I see a name popping up here that we see over and over again with these security problems, and that is Argenbright security, who does handle your security at Baltimore.

The federal government has come out and said that they are not going to do business with Argenbright anymore. Does Southwest Airlines continue to believe that they should be doing business with Argenbright?

JONES: Actually, the incident -- the information that you are talking about really isn't about security or screening.

KAGAN: Then what's it about?

JONES: It's about a government contract and a legal issue.

KAGAN: Right.

JONES: And this incident today really had to do more with equipment.

KAGAN: Okay.

JONES: Okay?

KAGAN: I mean, is Southwest going to still be using Argenbright?

JONES: You know, I'm really not in the area, I don't have that information.

KAGAN: Okay.

JONES: Okay.

KAGAN: Melanie Jones, thanks for joining us and letting us know what you do know about the situation at BWI.

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