"Badly conceived security measures are badly hurting the airlines" said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of IATA (International Air Transport Association), referring to costly stopgap security procedures that mainly succeed in hassling the passengers.
Speaking at the AVSEC world meeting of aviation security experts in Rome, Mr. Bisignani called for a global approach to security, relying on intelligence coordination and techniques such as biometrics to contribute to positive profiling of passengers.
He also stressed that governments are responsible for protecting their citizens: "Governments should implement and pay for aviation security not the airlines, not the airports and not their customers who are already taxpayers."
The total cost for the airlines of added security in 2002 is about U.S.$ 3 billion. In addition, the estimated lost business due to the "hassle factor" in the U.S. alone is costing airlines close to U.S.$2.5 billion.
Aviation security has been greatly stepped up since 11 September. A year on, it is now time to review these measures to ensure that they remain meaningful and efficient. For example, rather than carrying out random checks of passengers or arming pilots - who should be flying not firing – governments must focus their efforts on gathering intelligence and stopping terrorists from entering airports, much less getting on aircraft.
IATA's Simplifying Passenger Travel (SPT) programme is already working with governments, airports and technology suppliers supporting increased security through biometric identification and passenger profiling.
"This type of coordinated industry approach is the most efficient and cost-effective" concluded Bisignani. "Global solutions are essential if we want to keep the danger and not the passengers off the planes."
IATA is the international trade association of the world's airlines. Its 273 Member airlines from 143 countries carry 98% of the world's international scheduled traffic.
Note to Editors:
The industry-wide Simplifying Passenger Travel (SPT) programme was established to safely and securely use new technologies to simplify the passenger travel experience and at the same time enhance aviation security. It provides a unique opportunity for industry partners to work together to implement global and coordinated security procedures and use of technologies such as biometric identification.
This work is undertaken by the SPT Interest Group whose members include airlines, airports, customs and immigration authorities, industry suppliers, system integrators and consultants. IATA contributes project management support.