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Date: 22 January 2010

Security Summit Press Conference, Geneva

It has been my honor to welcome the US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to our Geneva home.  We have just concluded an historic meeting on aviation security. Security is a top priority for governments and for airlines.

Secretary Napolitano has brought a fresh new approach to aviation security which is greatly appreciated. She recognizes that the threats and this industry are complex and global. More importantly, the Secretary is taking a completely different approach from her predecessors. She understands that industry and governments must work together. And it is not just words. Today’s meeting is proof.

The US cannot keep terrorists outside its borders without the close consultation of governments and airlines—foreign and domestic. And we cannot keep terrorists off planes without the good work of governments. The events of Christmas Day remind us of this fact.

Coming to our offices to engage IATA and our 230 member airlines, representing 93% of scheduled traffic, is an impressive demonstration of her commitment to engage industry and find workable and effective solutions. This is a major step in the right direction

Of course, a single meeting cannot solve all the challenges that we face. On behalf of the airline industry, I presented the Secretary with several ideas on how we can work together to make global aviation more secure.

These include:

  • 1. Working together on a continuous basis so that security policies can be written with the benefit of operational expertise.
  • 2. Aligning security requirements with the industry’s execution capabilities and respecting the laws of different countries.
  • 3. Making passenger data collection and sharing more efficient by creating a single program for data exchange.
  • 4. Getting governments to harmonize their approach across borders so one country’s requirements do not conflict with another country’s laws.
  • 5. And we agree on the importance of a next generation checkpoint that combines technology and intelligence so we look for bad people and not only for bad objects.

But let me emphasize that more important than the agenda is the new approach that President Obama and the Secretary have brought to international aviation security. The Obama administration has brought a sea change to aviation security by proactively engaging industry. Combining government intelligence with airline operational expertise is the way forward.

Today is that start of a long-term process of working together to keep our skies safe and secure. And I hope that it will be a model for other governments to follow.

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