Pilots oppose use of civil aircraft by SDF

The Japan Airlines Captain Association (JACA) on January 19 expressed its opposition to a plan to use civil aircraft to transport Ground Self-Defense Force units for aid missions in areas hit by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

The JACA has found out that the Defense Agency decided to charter a JAL plane on January 21 to transport 180 GSDF personnel from New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido to Singapore.

A JACA official revealed that in answer to their inquiry, a JAL official said the Defense Agency had told them not to make the plan public.

JACA representatives demanded that the company reject the Defense Agency's request for a charter flight because it is in violation of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. They also warned that the government is attempting to pave the way for using more commercial flights for military purposes.

In answer to the JACA's representations, the company said that it will accept the Defense Agency's request because unarmed SDF units will provide humanitarian assistance in tsunami-affected areas.

SDF personnel usually use regular commercial flights as passengers to go to other places for drills.

The Defense Agency previously requested JAL and ANA to provide charter flights to transport SDF troops to Iraq and Kuwait, but the plan was thwarted by the strong opposition of aviation workers. (end)

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