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Date: 14 November 2017

Remarks of Alexandre de Juniac at AVSEC WORLD, Abu Dhabi

  • H.E Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority
  • H.E Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General, UAE General Civil Aviation Authority
  • H.E. Salman al-Humoud al-Sabah, President of Kuwait's Directorate-General of Civil Aviation
  • Peter Baumgartner Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways,
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

As-Salaam-Alaikum.

It is a great pleasure to be in vibrant Abu Dhabi. Thanks to Etihad—our hosts who have made us very welcome.

It's been a challenging year for aviation security. Aviation is the Business of Freedom. It brings people together, integrates the global economy and is a catalyst for prosperity. And that makes us a terrorist target.

Every aviation professional is committed to safe, secure and efficient travel for the four billion passengers and crew who fly. And we have an equal commitment to securely delivering the 50 million tonnes of cargo that represents a third of the value of goods traded internationally.

Governments want exactly the same thing. And just over a year ago, the primary responsibility of governments for aviation security was emphasized in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2309. And in practicality, effective aviation security must be a government-industry partnership. Governments have the information and financial resources. And the industry has the operational know-how.

The attendance at this conference demonstrates that partnership. I extend a special welcome to the many government representatives here today. And we are especially pleased that Admiral David Pekoske, Administrator of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will address us later this morning.

PED Ban

As we all know, in March of this year, the US. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) banned large portable electronic devices – laptops and tablets – in the cabin of aircraft departing from several airports in the Middle East and North Africa bound for the U.S. The UAE was included in the ban. Shortly thereafter, the UK issued similar restrictions but for different airports.

We trust that these measures were guided by reliable intelligence requiring urgent action.  Unfortunately, they were imposed unilaterally; and without prior warning or consultation with industry.

All affected airlines did their very best to operationalize the restrictions under difficult circumstances—reflecting our commitment to security. But the financial impact was significant.

Passenger confidence was also impacted. How could they have faith in the logic of the global security system when passengers boarding a flight from the UAE direct for the US had to check in their PEDs, while those going via London could keep theirs with them?

In the wake of these actions, a dialogue opened with the TSA. The focus was on achieving their security goals while minimizing the impact on airline operations. In June, the TSA unveiled alternative measures to be implemented in two stages.

We appreciate the dialogue, outreach, cooperation and openness of the TSA. These measures are absolutely preferable to a ban. But I must note two concerns. First, our members were challenged to meet the very aggressive TSA timelines. And second, airlines are being required to take on some of the roles of government authorities. I will come back to that point later.

Moving Forward

Thanks to a lot of hard work, the PED ban appears to be behind us. But the experience has taught us valuable lessons for the future. At the top of the list is the importance of a continuous dialogue around improving security. As I said earlier, effective security needs a strong government-industry partnership. Airlines have operational know-how. Governments have the financial and intelligence resources. We simply must work together.

We also gained experience on:

  • The need to avoid extraterritorial measures
  • The importance of global standards
  • The gap that still needs to be covered on information sharing, and
  • The development of new technology

Allow me to comment briefly on each, beginning with extraterritorial measures.

Extraterritorial Measures

The threats to aviation are real and may demand quick action by states. And it is challenging for airlines when governments at both ends of an international route have not coordinated their requirements.

As security is a government responsibility, the airline cannot tell any government what to do or what resources need to be allocated. And we need to provide a reliable service to our hard-won customers. So, too often airlines end up footing the bill or somehow doing what should be agreed in state-to-state discussions.

In the case of PEDs, TSA mandates that airlines flying to the US interview passengers to assess their security risk. Such interviews are traditionally done by government authorities. In the short term airlines may seem to be the best positioned to conduct the interviews. But in the long-term, if governments believe that these interviews are critical, then governments themselves should work together to dedicate the resources needed to fulfil that function.

And our message to governments is that, although short-term unilateral and extraterritorial measures may be necessary, they cannot be long-term solutions. Airlines should not be caught in the middle, picking up the pieces, bearing unplanned expenses for an indeterminate period, when governments cannot agree on measures needed for the security of their citizens.

Let's remember what can be accomplished when governments trust each other and cooperate across borders and with industry.

  • The foiled Sydney bomb plot raised concerns about air cargo and mail. The Australian authorities worked with the TSA. And there was broad industry consultation prior to the smooth rollout of additional measures to improve cargo security.
  • The One-Stop-Security agreements for intra-European travel and for travel from the US and Canada to Europe are landmark accomplishments. Unfortunately they are in stark contrast to redundant security measures imposed on most other multi-sector international journeys.

These great examples should inspire even closer collaboration. And I can assure you that the industry will support your efforts at every opportunity.

Global Standards

That leads to my next message which is the critical importance of global standards. Annex 17 of the Chicago Convention outlines the responsibilities of states in implementing effective security measures. It's been around for over four decades. And it is shocking that about 40% of states are struggling to implement its baseline requirements.

It's not for the industry to judge why these deficiencies exist. But they must be resolved. Forty percent compliance is not good enough.

It's encouraging to see that states are equally frustrated. At the recent International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) AVSEC Symposium about 90% of delegates asked for greater transparency on these deficiencies.

ICAO is leading the development of the Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP). It has the potential to guide a solution. Its success is so important that the UN Security Council is monitoring is progress.

The ICAO Council is expected to endorse GASeP in the coming days. That's good news. But endorsement and implementation are different things—as we clearly see with Annex 17. Capacity building will be critical. States will need to integrate the priority actions into their respective National Civil Aviation Security Programs. IATA can remind states that this is important. But only government can take the action needed on capacity building and implementation.

As an industry we must continue to focus on self-quality assurance through the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). For example, the adoption of risk-based approaches via a Security Management System is a requirement of the IOSA. IOSA is a requirement for IATA membership and for many commercial code-sharing agreements which are essential to most airlines.

So governments can be assured that the 400-plus airlines on the IOSA registry will be up-to-speed. 

Information Sharing

The PED episode also illustrated the importance of information sharing—and the degree to which it is still not done effectively among governments, let alone with industry. It was widely reported that the EU and other governments were caught by surprise by this measure. Further, lack of government to government information sharing was clear as different governments implemented different measures to address the same threat, often in inconsistent ways.

A few years earlier—and in a completely different and much more tragic context—the potential consequences of failing to share information came into sharp focus with the loss of 298 innocent people aboard Malaysia Airlines flight 17.

We fully support the addition of an information sharing standard in Annex 17 of the Chicago Convention. It is a step in the right direction, but it falls short of the true multi-lateral information sharing of risk information that is needed.

Our safety performance shows what can be achieved when governments cooperate among themselves and with the industry. Information sharing is not in the DNA of most government security organizations. But this reluctance must be overcome.

And to be clear, we are not asking governments to divulge sensitive intelligence to industry. But if they know of a risk to human life—to innocent human life—they need to tell the people who can do something about it. Otherwise, what's the use of having the information?

We are eager to work with governments to establish a government-industry partnership platform for the exchange of threat/risk information, during times of crisis when there are urgent threats and in the regular exercise of contingency planning.

Technology

This brings me to my last point—the development of technology. Technology was a key element in the first stage of enhanced security measures following the PED ban. And explosive trace detection screening will become an Annex 17 standard shortly.

There are two points to be raised.

First, we have largely achieved a global certification methodology for aircraft. But states have not yet developed a system of mutual recognition of standards for security detection equipment.

Repeating certification processes slows us down at a time when we need to be speeding up. We fully support the work of the TSA Innovation Task Force and the UK's Future Aviation Security Solutions program (FASS). The innovation in screening detection technology that they are driving is much needed. And it would be a shame if we cannot use the results of their efforts quickly and globally.

The second point is that we must make better use of information through technology. We fully support known-traveler programs. The more that we know about the people passing through airport checkpoints, the better a job we can do of screening them.

This is working well in programs such as TSA Pre-Check which expedites the screening of low-risk travelers. That's important because it allows more resources to be focused on people about whom we know less.

Biometric technology and identity management solutions can take these efforts a major step further. IATA's annual Global Passenger Survey highlights that passengers are frustrated with security and border control processes; and they are willing to share information if it makes these processes easier.

The next challenges are to link these programs internationally and to think more holistically. For example, border control and security would both be more efficient with common access to passenger information.

Conclusion

We will never know exactly what the next security challenge will be, where it will come from or how it will play out. Protecting the lives of the 4 billion people who need to fly and the global economy reliant on the safe delivery of $6.4 trillion of goods shipped by air annually is an imprecise science. And that makes it a huge challenge.

But there are some things that we do know for sure. To start, our common defense is stronger when governments and industry work together. And if we can avoid long term extraterritorial measures, focus on global standards, share information and develop technology efficiently our hand is strengthened even further.

As you discuss these themes over the next days, I urge you to focus on why we are here. We have a task that is bigger than any one company, government or institution can achieve. We are here to work together to protect the Business of Freedom.

Thank you and have a great conference.

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