Aviation security is at the top of the agenda for governments and for industry. We live in a global world with global connectivity and global threats. Our common goal is to protect the connectivity and eliminate the threats. To be successful, we need Intelligent Security Through Collaboration, which is the theme of this meeting.

With your efforts, we are much more secure today than in 2001. But as with safety, there is always room for improvement; understanding risks and actions to mitigate them. Unlike safety, the risks in security are constantly evolving. The events of last weekend, with packages from Yemen, reminded us that governments and industry must work together.

I must commend governments for their intelligence gathering, coordinated action, and their speedy and targeted response. Over the next days, weeks and months, as governments learn more about the threat, we must continue to work together to implement appropriate solutions. I will comment on cargo security later on in my address.

25 December 2009

But let me continue now by looking back on our response to another security wake-up call. That was the failed Christmas Day attack against a Delta flight last December. Critical information was not used intelligently. Airport processes did not work. The terrorist’s methodology was new and governments responded ineffectively. Uncoordinated directives left airlines struggling to maintain operations and hundreds of thousands of passengers were inconvenienced. Several important realities were highlighted including the fact that aviation remains a target for terrorism, processes must improve, collaboration amongst governments should be better and government/industry cooperation must be much closer.

Five Recommendations

A remarkable change followed. IATA hosted an emergency security summit in Geneva a few weeks after the incident. The US Secretary for Homeland Security (DHS) came to meet with airline CEOs and to share ideas, experiences and frustrations in order to find a better approach. After a decade of “we make the rules, you follow”, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s openness to collaboration was a constructive breath of fresh air.

First, we presented the Secretary with five principles to guide our efforts. Our actions should take a risk-based approach, involve globally coordinated action by all stakeholders, harmonize best practice across borders, be practically implementable and be strategically focused on defined objectives.

These principles led us to five recommendations. One, implement formal consultation with all airlines, including non-US carriers. Two, refine existing emergency orders to address the international environment. Three, streamline the data collection process. Four, strengthen government to government outreach for greater harmonization and coordination, and five, start developing a next generation checkpoint.

Over the next two days, Guenther Matschnigg and Ken Dunlap will review progress on each of these recommendations. To start the discussion, I will highlight achievements and remaining challenges.

Government cooperation: The Progress

Let’s start with government and industry cooperation. Our interests are aligned. Airlines don’t want terrorists on their aircraft and governments don’t want terrorists in their countries. Over the past year, the US and other governments have understood that working with industry is the only way forward. For example, previously the DHS excluded non-US carriers from advisory committees and councils. But Secretary Napolitano recently created an International Working Group for Aviation Security. Today, I am pleased to welcome John Pistole, Administrator of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA). His presence is proof that the US is serious about working together.

Last month’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly marked similar progress in the international community. IATA called on the Assembly to recognize the importance of formal and continuous consultation with industry. The Assembly achieved three key outcomes. A declaration on security urged all states to promote increased cooperation among governments and with industry. Second, the Assembly agreed to provide, in cooperation with governments and industry, technical assistance to states with limited resources to address security threats. Third, with the support of ICAO and the DHS, the Assembly resolved to coordinate standards and recognize measures already in place in other states.

This paves the way for one-stop security. If we are satisfied that an origin airport and a transfer airport have similar security standards, there is no need to repeat security processes when the passenger changes planes. We don’t have the time, space or resources for processes that add no value. With one-stop security, the passenger is screened only once, which is at the beginning of the journey. This will speed-up transfer times and free-up resources to focus on activities that add value to the security process.

Government Cooperation: The Challenges

Progress in words means nothing without follow-up actions. We will take an important step tomorrow when IATA and ICAO sign a follow-up agreement to exchange security contact data. IATA submitted to the TSA recommendations to consolidate and improve the efficiency of US emergency amendments. I am confident that the TSA leadership will engage with industry to build win-win solutions from these recommendations. And I hope that some key early successes for the DHS International Working Group for Aviation Security will encourage other governments to set-up similar processes.

I would like to highlight three areas where more progress is needed: Meeting the challenges of cargo security, standardizing data collection and building a checkpoint of the future.

Cargo Security

The events in Yemen have put cargo security at the top of our agenda. Air freight drives the world’s economy. The products that we carry represent 35% of the total value of goods traded internationally. In 2009, airlines carried 26 million tonnes of international cargo. By 2014, that will increase to 38 million tonnes. Transporting these goods safely, securely and efficiently is critical. As with any security matter, governments depend on intelligence. It appears that the Saudi government provided the initial alert and the coordinated actions of the UK, US and UAE averted loss of life or of property. Industry also has a role and it is not just airlines. The entire supply chain, from manufacturer to airport, has a responsibility for secure shipments. And this supply chain approach must be driven by government and industry cooperation on investment, processes, technology and risk assessment.

Process: Supply Chain Solutions

Many countries are well advanced on supply chain solutions. For example, the UK’s Regulated Agent Program takes a pragmatic approach. The US Certified Cargo Screening Program has shippers, forwarders and manufacturers take responsibility for their part of the supply chain. IATA is promoting Secure Freight to help all governments develop a similar approach. Securing the supply chain is a critical component of our cargo efforts.

Technology: Scanners

Scanning technology is also important. I emphasize that airport screening cannot be our first line of defense. Screening can complement effective intelligence and supply chain solutions. However, there is no technology today that governments have certified to screen standard size pallets and large items. There is some promising technology but it is taking far too long to move from the laboratory to the airport. We must speed up the process.


Industry has given governments an important information tool - IATA’s e-freight program. Already we have the capability to cover 80% of cargo shipments. E-freight speeds up shipments and will save the industry $4.9 billion. Importantly, the e-freight data now provides regulators with electronic access to some 20 documents providing accurate insight on who is shipping what. Currently governments use this data primarily for inbound processing. The next steps are for the industry to increase overall e-freight volumes and for governments to use e-freight data in the outbound security process. This allows us to manage cargo security intelligently and efficiently without compromising on speed.

Risk Assessment

We have worked successfully with governments to implement solutions that mitigate identified risks. We secured all cockpits to prevent aircraft from being used as weapons. We developed programs appropriate to the different risks for cargo on passenger and freighter aircraft. The Yemen incident identified a new risk. Governments may decide that something needs to change. Over the past decade, we had plenty of experience of unilateral solutions creating unintended problems. I am confident that we can meet any challenge if governments work with industry on practical solutions appropriate to the level or risk.

Standardizing Data Collection

Putting cargo security aside, I see two challenges for passenger security. The first is data. It helps governments to vet travelers and identify threats. IATA and the World Customs Organization formulated global standards for data elements and the process to collect them. Governments then agreed through ICAO. But they don’t all follow the standards that they have agreed on. For airlines, this is a costly problem. It takes about $1 million to build systems for each country with a non-standard data requirement. Even adding just one non-standard element to data collection is a $50,000 system cost. Airlines already spend $5.9 billion on security each year. That’s more than the expected profit for the entire industry in 2011. The money spent must address risk-assessed threats.

India is an unfortunate example of wasted money on non-standard data programs. Through ICAO, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation agreed to ICAO standard requirements. Eighteen months ago, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs began requiring non-standard data. Customs offices in Bangalore and Mumbai added further non-standard requirements. The nightmare of complying with these unnecessarily complicated requirements is now resulting in threats of fines to the airlines. We have similar non-standard requirements in South Korea with PNR data, with China’s inability to align the needs of immigration and customs, and with Mexico’s inability to share API data within its own government.

All these exceptions consume money and resources but none improve security or border control.
The challenge is to work with governments to implement harmonized standards.

Checkpoints of the Future

We must also modernize the 40 year old airport screening process first developed to combat hijacking. Today’s threats require a different approach and different technology. What must change?

First, the focus must shift from looking for bad objects to finding terrorists—bad people. Belts, shoes and shampoo are not the problem. We must combine effective information from the enormous amount of passenger data that we collect with technology that can screen for more things than just metal. This will give us a dynamic system that can deal with changing threats.

Second, the process must become much quicker and more convenient. Discouraging travelers with queues into the parking lot is not a solution. And it is not acceptable to treat passengers as terrorists until they prove themselves innocent.

Third, we must address the whole process and all the stakeholders in passenger processing focus on the same travelers. It makes no sense that they use different identifiers, credit cards, passports, boarding passes, etc. and disjointed processes within a single airport terminal.

Finally, we must find alternatives to the one-size-fits-all model. We can expedite procedures for pre-identified low risk travelers and for those who give us access to more personal history. This will help us to cope with passenger volumes that will increase by 900 million to 3.3 billion by 2014.

Long-term Vision

My long-term vision is for the passenger to be able to get from the door of the airport to the door of the aircraft in a seamless and uninterrupted process. A biometric identifier such as your fingerprint along with your mobile phone and a radio-frequency identification (RFID) equipped passport could be access keys to a walk through a tunnel of technology that uses databases to assess risk level, checks you in and assign seating, completes immigration processes and screens for prohibited objects.

This is obviously not going to happen tomorrow but I would challenge everyone with a stake in aviation security to leave their silos and work towards a radically different, more convenient and effective airport process.

Short-term action

And with this vision in mind, there are advancements that can happen much more quickly. IATA is already working on concepts for a checkpoint of the future. At the initial stage, we are looking at two major advancements. First, the checkpoint must match checks to risk-levels by using passenger data intelligently. Second, the checkpoint must gain speed by reducing the need for packing and unpacking.

Body scanners could be a part of this process but not for all, not without significantly faster processing time and not before carefully identifying costs, benefits and weaknesses. At an estimated cost of $2.4 billion for their deployment in the US alone, scanners are a lot of money for a still undefined return. Similarly, equipment that can detect liquids and gels will be key but only when we have robust technology.

This is on the agenda for tomorrow. I hope you will decide on aggressive and concrete steps and targets for a new checkpoint that can guide discussions with government with a unified industry opinion.


This conference has an important agenda at a very critical time. Defining coordinated security responses with collaboration between industry and government has made more progress in the last 10 months than at any time since the tragic events of 2001. Governments and industry are aligned with a common goal, re-confirmed in an ICAO declaration that the US White House praised as an historic step forward. The events of the weekend could add a new dimension to this challenge but the vision remains clear - Intelligent Security Through Collaboration.

I wish you a successful conference