Continental apologises to Kalam for frisking incident

Stung by the backlash to a three-month-old incident where former president A P J Abdul Kalam was frisked before being allowed to board one of its flights, US-based Continental Airlines on Wednesday apologised to Kalam for the inconvenience.

On 21 April, the former president was asked to remove his shoes and frisked before being allowed to board a Continental flight to Newark. The incident caused uproar in parliament on Tuesday, with members cutting across party lines demanding action against the airline.

Continental's initial reaction yesterday was more brazen - that it was following standard procedure, which could not be varied for any individual. Today, however, it said in a statement, ''Our intention was never to offend Dr Kalam or the sentiments of the people of India. Continental Airlines takes great pride and is honoured to have flown a respectable leader such as Dr Kalam.

''We have tendered a formal apology to Dr Kalam and we sincerely hope he will fly with us again.''

It further said that US transportation security administration and the Indian Bureau of Civil Aviation Security regulations were sometimes not compatible, and hoped the respective government authorities would resolve these differences.

It said it was also formally addressing the queries raised in the show cause notice issued by the BCAS yesterday.