Palau president stranded in Philippines after airline hitch
Apr 3, 2008, 6:11 GMT
Manila - The president of Palau was forced to stay an additional night in the Philippines following his state visit after he was not allowed to board his return flight because he refused to be frisked, officials said Thursday.
President Tommy Remengesau was scheduled to leave Manila after a two-day visit on Wednesday evening aboard a Continental Airlines flight to Palau.
But the flight took off without Remengesau and his wife Debbie after the Continental crew did not allow them to board because the president refused to be patted down, a security procedure at airports.
'We expected better treatment accorded to a head of state,' said Palau Ambassador to the Philippines Ramon Rechebei. 'The airline demanded that he be frisked before entering the plane otherwise he would not be allowed to enter.'
Rechebei said it was decided that Remengesau would not go through the security procedure, and stay another night in Manila to allow protocol officers to iron out the kinks.
He added that Palau may file a formal complaint against the airline through diplomatic channels.
Alfonso Cusi, general manager of Manila's international airport, said Continental would be investigated for refusing to grant courtesy to Remengesau and his wife.
Continental is the only airline that flies directly to Palau from Manila. Philippine authorities arranged for a private jet to fly Remengesau and his wife home on Thursday.
Philippine authorities had requested Continental Airlines to waive the security check on the president as a courtesy to the visiting dignitary. But the airline refused, citing strict US regulations.