Geneva - IATA understands the need for government-mandated emergency security measures as a result of the attempted downing of Northwest Flight 253 on 25 December 2009. Security is a government responsibility. Emergency measures should be revised as information is gathered in the investigation.

The 3 January announcement by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace the original emergency requirement for 100 percent pat-down screening of all US-bound passengers with threat based and random screening is a welcome step in the right direction.

The TSA announcement is in line with requests made by IATA in a letter to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on 29 December. "It is critical that DHS partner with industry to identify the most effective and efficient ways to address this challenge going forward. Clearly, the air transport system cannot support 100 percent pat-down searches over the long term. However, a smaller percentage of intensive pat downs accompanied by trace detection technology may reduce delays and achieve near-term security requirements as we focus on longer-term technology solutions to address the ongoing threat," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Long-term, sustainable aviation security must be globally harmonized, risk-based and have efficient processes for passengers.

One lesson already learned from this incident is the importance of combining screening procedures with intelligence. Following the new TSA announcement, IATA calls on DHS and TSA to work with their international counterparts to look at a next generation checkpoint. This should give screeners access to effective intelligence to deliver proportional screening measures based on intelligence driven risk assessments.

IATA continues to urge the US and other governments to coordinate security requirements and to work closely with industry for their effective implementation.

Editor's Notes:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.

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