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24 Jun, 2013 13:55

‘Snowden not likely to be on plane to Havana’

‘Snowden not likely to be on plane to Havana’

Though the US says that any flight carrying Snowden should not be allowed to pass, they are hardly able to do anything, aviation expert Chris Yates told RT, adding that it is unlikely that the whistleblower is now on the flight from Moscow to Havana.

RT:First, no one has seen Snowden on this plane. Is it possible to secretly get someone aboard and hide them on a passenger jet?

Chris Yates: Well, quite frankly probably not. We’ve got that plane stuffed with journalists and other people who obviously attempted to keep an eye out for Mr. Snowden. It’s unlikely that he will be on that plane, in fact nobody has actually seen him. The fact of the matter is that he still might be in that transit lounge, he may be held for some reason in that transit lounge because of the media scrum. Whatever the case might be it certainly appears that he is not actually on the flight at the moment. 

RT:  If he is on this plane, is there a legal way to intercept it?

Edward Snowden (AFP Photo / The Guardian)

CY: Yesterday the American government put out a warning to all nations in the Western hemisphere not to let Mr. Snowden pass through except en route to the US. It could mean that any plane he is travelling on other nations might prevent from entering their airspace, because they don’t want to be caught up in this particular spat.  It is unlikely that would happen.  The bottom line in the aviation world is that if the flight is operating legally, it filed all the proper flight forms and done the rest of appropriate measures then that plane should be given free access straight cross any bit of airspace it is flying through. Could the US intercept the aircraft if it were to enter US airspace? Possibly they could instruct it to land somewhere in the US, but I would think that would be unlikely. Of course the pilot himself has the possibility to divert so he does not actually need to enter US airspace to actually fly down to Havana. And that will be another possibility as well.

RT:Who makes the decision to divert? Who does the pilot respond to: a legal authority or his corporate superiors?

CY: Once the plane takes off it’s entirely down to the pilot to choose the best route depending upon all of the prevailing conditions at the time and that could be weather and a whole other variety of things as well. So if the pilot were to choose to fly the route just outside of US airspace close to it then he would be entitled to do that of his own volition provided that it didn’t have any impact upon the safety of the flight and everybody else on board it. 

RT:This is an Airbus 330 - does it have enough fuel to divert?

CY: Yes is the short answer to that question. All flights operating all over the world are required to carry enough fuel in case of diversion whatever that diversion might be. The bottom line is that – yes, the airplane will be carrying enough fuel. Now the US says that any flight carrying Mr. Snowden should not be allowed to pass, but on the other hand they are powerless to do anything provided that the airplane does not enter US airspace.

RT:Reports say Snowden's passport was revoked by the US If so, how can he move around the world?

CY: I’ve had personal experience of losing a passport, for example, and there are methods and mechanisms in place for people to be able to travel back to their home country without a passport. That is a legal document which is usually produced by some official authority, the police for example, in my case it issued a document that let we travel across Europe to get back to the UK. The fact that the US government revoked his passport does not necessarily mean that he cannot get on a flight which is pre-booked, and particularly if he is the transit lounge of an airport because effectively he is in no man’s land. If he used a legal passport it would seem to me at his point of departure and while he is in transit then it would seem that it doesn’t really matter whether he has got that passport in his hand and it’s actually a legal document at that time.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.