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Thu, Oct 06, 2011

IATA Calls For Harmonization, Vigilance On Security

But Says System Needs Improvement For Travelers And Shippers

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments and other aviation stakeholders to join airlines in a partnership to improve aviation security and the experience of both travelers and shippers. Key to this is early adoption of IATA's Checkpoint of the Future (CoF), a supply chain approach to cargo security, harmonization of measures among governments and constant vigilance to new threats.

"With a decade of experience in the post 9/11 world, it is time for a holistic review of what has been created. There are a lot of things we do right and there is lot that could be improved. I am convinced that by working in partnership we can find a better way. Security is a top priority for everyone associated with the aviation industry. We must find ways to improve both the security of the system and the satisfaction of those who use it," said Tony Tyler (pictured), IATA's Director General and CEO. Tyler's comments were made in an address to the AVSEC World Conference and Exhibition which has gathered nearly 500 industry leaders in Amsterdam.

IATA is calling for an overhaul of airport security screening and urging early adoption of the principles behind its Checkpoint of the Future vision. The CoF introduces a risk-based approach supported by advanced technology to allow passengers to move through the checkpoint without stopping, unpacking or disrobing.

"Today's security checkpoint was developed in the 1970's when hijackers carrying metal weapons were the threat. It is a 40 year-old-concept that needs to fundamentally change. We have added layers of process in response to threats and events but we have not made it any more intelligent because we do not use the information that is collected on passengers to power a risk-based approach. A one-size-fits-all model is applied to every passenger. Their experience is often unpleasant, intrusive, inefficient and time consuming. For the billions of dollars that we spend, we could do a lot better," said Tyler.

IATA "Checkpoint Of The Future"

CoF's risk-based approach would divide passenger screening into three categories (1) normal, (2) enhanced and (3) "known traveler". This is based on data already being collected on passengers for customs and immigrations processes such as data stored in the Passenger Name Record, or Advanced Passenger Information, which is provided to governments via travel documents. There would be no profiling based on religious or ethnic grounds. Access to the expedited "known traveler" lane would be reserved for those travelers who voluntarily provide background data to governments through "known traveler" programs such as those being tested in the US, Canada and elsewhere. In all categories travelers would be screened to a baseline level.

The CoF long-term vision anticipates advanced screening technology that would enable passengers to be screened with their bags without stopping, removing clothing or unpacking. Such equipment is expected to be fully available within seven years. In the interim, parts of the CoF vision could be implemented. "There is no need to wait for all the technology to be available to eliminate some of the hassle while improving security. As known traveler programs are developed, they can be progressively incorporated into the process. And re-purposing of some screening equipment can help with improving efficiencies. With traveler numbers expected to reach 3.5 billion by 2015-up 700 million from today-we need to get started now," said Tyler.

In the aftermath of last year's incident concerning printer cartridges being shipped from Yemen, governments continue to look for ways to further tighten air cargo security. "The future of air cargo security is a multi-layered approach involving the whole supply chain and including both advanced electronic information and physical screening. But we don't want to see 100% screening at airports, which would grind global commerce to a halt," said Tyler. This year airlines are expected to carry some 46 million tonnes of air cargo which will account for about 35% of the total value of goods traded internationally.

"Aviation is a global industry that is built on global standards. That is how aviation became the safest way to travel. And it is the best way to make it secure," he said. Tyler also noted IATA's opposition to the development of so-called "Red Lists" for cargo. "Requiring certain countries to overcome extreme hurdles to participate in global commerce is the wrong approach," he said. But he also warned against complacency. "We must not make the mistake of believing that technology or regulation can be a substitute for vigilance as we strive to make air transport more secure. Each has an important role, but over-reliance on either breeds complacency-which is a step in the wrong direction. We must continue to be vigilant. That means working in partnership with governments and the value chain to anticipate and prepare for the next generation of threats in a way that is harmonized among states," he said.

IATA reiterated the need for governments to bear the cost of security which has risen to $7.4 billion annually. "The threats that we face concern national security. As with any other national security issue, the cost should be borne by national governments," said Tyler.

FMI: www.iata.org

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