Other passengers were uncooperative
March 18, 2002
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Colin Gaul, a Guyanese born Swedish citizen living in Sweden, according to reports was assaulted, handcuffed and dragged off an aircraft - BWIA flight 431 a few days ago at the Grantley Adams' International Airport, Barbados by some 5 policemen of the Royal Barbados Police Force and in the presence of his 3 years old son, all because he objected in a loud tone of voice to being asked to board the aircraft from the back instead of the front entrance where his seat was nearer.
Mr Gaul has told a story of horror supported by other passengers of flight 431 from Barbados to Guyana. BWIA has made representations to the Guyana government to be the country's flag carrier. The government, I am informed is still considering the application.
BWIA for many years now has the reputation of taking the people of Guyana for granted. Many of your letter writers have written negative stories of their experiences with this airline. I hope the government has listened to these complaints and is taking the last incident very seriously. BWIA should not, I repeat, should not be the flag carrier of the State of Guyana.
According to BWIA's airline director of security, Peter McCarthy "the paramount concern of the captain and crew had to be the safety and security of the 90 passengers on BWIA 431."
Further, "BWIA's position is clear. Any passenger who refuses to co-operate with the authorised airline personnel will be considered a security risk and will be denied boarding or removed form the aircraft." It is strange that " ... Two female passengers who were seated behind Gaul and asked to move by the police so that they could forcibly remove him from his seat also refused to comply with the request from the police to remain behind as witnesses to the incident," were not taken off the aircraft for failing to co-operate with the police.
If, as Mr McCarthy claims, Gaul was uncooperative and the airline was "...following safety and security procedures governing the handling of uncooperative passengers who refuse to follow instructions" why were not the 90 passengers who refused to leave the aircraft not taken off? To my mind Colin Gaul was intimidated and coerced into signing the waiver absolving the airline of any liability as a result of the incident. In my opinion, notwithstanding his signing it is therefore void.