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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Reagan National Set to Reopen

Aired October 4, 2001 - 06:41   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: In just a few minutes, all U.S. airports will be back up and running for the first time since the attacks on September 11, and there you're seeing a live picture of the very latest and last airport to reopen. It is Reagan National in the nation's capital. And in about 30 minutes, the very first flight will take off from this reopened airport.

CNN's Bruce Morton is going to be on board. He's going to be noticing already heightened security measures out there. For example, Bruce was telling us earlier that several armed men were waiting to get on that plane as well. Air marshals in civilian clothing will be on all airplanes flying in and out of Reagan National.

So what other security changes should passengers get ready for at the airport? Well, Tara Hamilton is the public affairs director for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and she is here very early in the morning to join us with some answers -- good morning, Tara.

TARA HAMILTON, WASHINGTON AIRPORTS AUTHORITY: Good morning.

LIN: All right. It looks like business as usual behind you. What are some of the changes as passengers arrive at the airport that they're going to be seeing right away?

HAMILTON: Well, as you say, it's business as usual, but there is a new usual. Passengers in airports across the country are seeing increased security, and what you're going to see here at Reagan National is more of that security. In particular, there are very strict measures on what carry-on items -- how many items can be taken through security screening. So passengers are limited to one bag and one personal item.

We also, of course, have increased presence of law enforcement officials, both our own police officers and our own canine teams, as well as federal law enforcement officials and some of our mutual aid police departments here in the Washington region.

LIN: All right. Let's start with the top of that list. You talk about one bag. Let' say a passenger is taking the bag, going through the security check and the magnetometers. What is it that someone might innocently pack in that bag that would likely be confiscated at security? HAMILTON: Well, I think what's important is to continue to reinforce the message that everybody flying, no matter what airport you're flying out of, you have to be cognizant of what you're carrying with you on board. And I think we've all been educated in the last several weeks that you don't bring items that would in the least way look suspicious or be in any way interpreted as something harmful.

LIN: A nail file, a pair of tweezers, a nail clipper?

HAMILTON: Exactly. Something that, you know, prior to three weeks ago seemed fairly innocent. Today, I think we all have a new sense of awareness.

LIN: All right. And you're talking about more heightened security -- police officers, federal marshals -- a federal marshal on every single flight going out of Reagan National, is that right?

HAMILTON: Well, of course, that is under the guidance of the federal government and the Federal Aviation Administration. I'm sure you understand there are a lot of security measures that are in place around the country and additional measures in place here at Reagan National that we're not able to discuss.

But what we do want to tell people is that we're welcoming them back -- back to the nation's capital and back to our airport. And we know so far that passengers seem very willing to abide by the new rules and to be part of an entire heightened sense of awareness as we travel.

LIN: All right. It's going to be a limited schedule today, right?

HAMILTON: Yes, we're starting a phased-in approach. We're going to have up to 190 flights a day for the first three weeks, and then by mid-November, we'll be up to 450 daily flights. That's important. We want to be able to increase service for the holiday season that's coming up, and then we'll move on from there.

LIN: All right. So how early should people get to the airport if they're flying out of Reagan National then?

HAMILTON: Well, the airlines here, who are serving our passengers, are suggesting two hours. We think that will be -- give us ample time to go through the process here. Our terminal, if you're familiar with it, is very easy to use. We have a very straightforward system here. So we think two hours will be ample time.

LIN: Well, it's pretty exciting, and once again, CNN will be on that first flight out. Thank you very much, Tara Hamilton, for joining us this morning.

HAMILTON: Thank you.

LIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like there.

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