The operation of North American Airlines Flight #1777, a military charter flight which landed and departed Oakland International Airport (OAK) on Thursday, September 27, 2007, has lead to some concern in our community. We would like to share some of the policies and procedures that influenced the decision-making regarding how the crew and passengers on this flight were served.
It is common that the way things appear or are reported initially turn out to be different upon further analysis or receipt of more information. An analysis of the incident and prior correspondence between OAK's Airside Operations and the ground handler determined that the airport did not receive clear communication in advance from the charter airline that was hired by the military.
OAK, its tenants, and law enforcement partners will continue to work together to refine our procedures to prevent this type of situation from occurring again in the future.
All of us here at OAK proudly serve and support our nation's military service men and women and their families. They are always treated with the highest level of respect and we go out of our way to ensure that their travel experience through OAK is in line with our very high customer service standards.
Aircraft parking and passenger service arrangements were coordinated and approved in advance between the ground handling company, which contracted with the charter airline North American, and OAK's Airside Operations. The airport received information that the passengers were not screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at their originating airport and that weapons were on-board the aircraft. Together with our security partners, the airport made a decision to park this aircraft at a remote location on the tarmac. It is the responsibility of the charter airline that its operation is compliant with TSA screening requirements.
Upon landing and parking at OAK, the pilot advised the ground handling company that the parking and passenger handling provisions did not meet expectations. Upon learning this, OAK's Airside Operations and Aviation Security offices worked with the ground handling company and security partners to coordinate a plan that was satisfactory to the pilot and passengers, and which was compliant with all airport safety and security standards.
Charter airlines operating at OAK can choose to contract with a number of ground handling companies. Ground handlers coordinate flight services such as passenger handling, and aircraft fueling, cleaning and catering. It is the responsibility of ground handling companies to communicate aircraft and passenger operational needs to OAK's Airside Operations Office in advance so that special accommodations can be coordinated to ensure that all airport operational, safety and security concerns are addressed. In the case of North American Airlines Flight #1777, all necessary information was not shared in advance.
The scheduled arrival and departure time of the flight is set by the pilot or aircraft operator. Time is needed to refuel the aircraft, perform maintenance inspections, refresh the catering, and give passengers time to stretch to break-up long travel periods.
We hope that this additional information helps our community understand how the military charter flight was handled upon arriving OAK. Our nation's armed forces personnel are incredibly important to us here at OAK and are always treated with the utmost respect.