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Tougher penalties urged for false terror threats

(Xinhua)

08:18, October 11, 2012

BEIJING, Oct.10 (Xinhua) -- Aviation and legal experts on Wednesday urged tougher penalties for people who make false threats that result in flight delays or cancellations following three recent related incidents.

Two domestic flights operated by Air China, the country's flagship carrier, were affected by threatening phone calls that were placed before takeoff on Tuesday, just one day after a China Southern Airlines flight was forced to land in northwest China's Gansu Province after an anonymous terrorist threat was received.

Both threats turned out to be false after security checks were carried out.

Three Chinese airlines have received threatening calls since late August, disrupting flight schedules and irritating passengers.

Li Xiaojin, a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China, said false threats have increased in recent years, adding that the callers have multiple intents for their acts.

In one case, a tour guide claimed a bomb was planted on a plane in order to delay the flight, as the tourists he was in charge of were late to the airport. In another case, a young man used the same method to stop his girlfriend from leaving him. Other cases stemmed from customer dissatisfaction with airlines, mental illness or sheer boredom.

The threats indicate a poor awareness of the law and disrespect for the public interest, as false threats disrupt normal flights and can result in panic, said Zhu Xiangdong, another industry expert.

More than 90 percent of the calls were made by people between the ages of 18 and 30, he noted.

"Many young people think no one can find out who makes the calls. But anyone who makes these kinds of calls will eventually be caught," said Lin Quan, an civil aviation safety expert at the Civil Aviation University of China.

Pan Xian, a Shanghai resident who flies frequently for business, said false threats have made him feel more worried about traveling.

"If I come across such an incident when I am on a business trip, it will affect my work a great deal. I'd feel afraid even if it was a false threat," said Pan.


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