Business travelers grounded by threat
Lisa Schollaert made a flurry of calls when the State Department issued a global travel alert because of terror concerns on Friday, a day after the government announced plans to close embassies and consulates around the Muslim world.
Schollaert oversees business travel at Canonsburg-based Aquatech International Corp. Eight employees were overseas, including one in the Middle East, an area of particular concern for the federal government.
“I did a quick inventory of where everyone was and made sure they contacted their embassy or consulate,” said Schollaert, administrative services manager at Aquatech, which produces water purification and wastewater treatment systems.
Schollaert said Aquatech, which typically has up to 20 employees traveling abroad at a given time, will ground travel plans to countries where embassies or consulates are closed.
“We would never put our employees in any kind of danger,” Schollaert said, though she did not think the terror scare would last long or make a dent in business.
The government planned to close 21 embassies and consulates only on Sunday. The travel alert continues through Aug. 31.
The State Department warned American citizens of the potential for terrorism, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, saying an attack could occur or come from the Arabian Peninsula.
“Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,” the alert stated.
Top terror targets include public transportation systems and tourist hot spots, it said.
The broad nature of the alert “suggests they don't have anything specific on the threat,” said Art Kosatka, a former Transportation Security Administration policy director who heads the Maryland-based consulting firm Transecure Inc.
Kosatka did not expect air travelers to notice major changes at U.S. airports. TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein declined to say whether the agency would ramp up security.
Pittsburgh International Airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny was not aware of any plans to boost security locally. Pittsburgh has no direct flights to the Middle East or North Africa. Delta Air Lines offers a lone trans-Atlantic flight to Paris.
The alert urged American travelers to take extra precaution when traveling overseas. It suggested they sign up for State Department alerts and register with U.S. consulates in countries they visit.
“Americans should pay attention to this alert. It's not something that's done on a regular basis,” said Kent Moors, a scholar in residence at Duquesne University's Institute for Energy and the Environment who regularly travels to the Middle East.
Moors urged Americans to scrap foreign travel plans that are not essential. If they do travel, he suggested using a foreign airline and to “remain on the beaten path” when abroad.
“I think the people that are already doing business in that part of the world are taking this with a grain of salt,” said Lyn Doverspike, director of the U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Center in Pittsburgh.
“They are pretty seasoned travelers who don't call attention to themselves when they're overseas. I don't think you'll have a lot of companies scrapping plans. They might just postpone them until a better time and work on other markets,” Doverspike said.
Tom Fontaine is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pennsylvania religious freedom law does not extend to for-profits
- Planned Uptown revival priority for City of Pittsburgh
- Arrivals from Paris soon will avoid extra screening at Pittsburgh International
- North Versailles couple faults construction company for damage to property
- Newsmaker: Bob Madden
- Carnegie Library, recently in crisis mode, reports surplus, passes fundraising goal
- Ex-prosecutor concerned with latest Pa. child abuse findings
- With ‘Ravenstahl Field’ awaiting approval, Pittsburgh City Council approves naming guidelines
- Two with experience in the mental health system nominated to Allegheny County board
- Allegheny County Court judge removes Brentley from City Council primary ballot
- Owner of Penn Hills tombstone business pleads guilty to swindling the bereaved out of $90K