IATA Seeks Fine Balance Between Security, Disruptions

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

The world’s airlines are seeking the best options to balance between enhanced security and the disruptions it causes for passengers and the economy at large.

At its AGM in CUN, IATA called for greater collaboration among government and industry stakeholders to keep flying secure, through risk mitigation measures that maximize the protection of pax and crew while minimizing disruption. 

"Aviation is a target for terrorists intent on destroying the freedom that is at the heart of our business,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of the association that represents the vast majority of the world’s airlines.

“Information sharing among governments and with the industry is the key to staying a step ahead of emerging threats. We have the same goals — to keep passengers and crew safe. So it only makes sense that we work together as closely as possible."

During its AGM, IATA passed a resolution that highlighted the importance of UN Security Council Resolution 2309, which calls for governments to meet their responsibility to keep citizens secure while travelling by air.

It also reaffirmed industry support for the development by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP). IATA says it believes the plan should significantly enhance the clarity, simplicity, and focus of ICAO’s global standards for security so there is no ambiguity in the responsibilities of states.

"GASeP must be a pragmatic and nimble framework for all parties involved in aviation security to work together. No single entity has all the answers. By combining our strengths more efficiently, the security of passengers and crew will be better served," said de Juniac.

The Resolution urges governments to:  

  • Engage the industry in early dialogue when faced with a security threat to ensure that workable and effective response measures are developed and can be implemented efficiently to maximize passenger safety and minimize disruption  
  • Work in partnership with each other and with airlines, airports and other stakeholders to develop effective, long-term, security measures
  • Take greater accountability for the implementation of ICAO standards and security measures and urgently address gaps identified through ICAO’s Universal Security Audit Program (USAP)
  • Fast-track the GASeP roadmap into National Civil Aviation Security Program

"The timing of the resolution is significant. Public and industry confidence has been rattled by inconsistencies in how some states have responded to concerns over the potential for explosives to be concealed in large portable electronic devices (PEDs),” said de Juniac.

“It highlights the reason why we need better information sharing and better coordination to achieve risk mitigation measures that maximize the protection of passengers and crew while minimizing unnecessary disruption.”

The resolution also recognizes the roles and responsibilities of industry in helping governments to keep flying secure. It commits airlines to: 

  • Implement prescribed security standards and recommended practices to the highest level  
  • Support governments in the development and implementation of additional security measures when required to protect air transport 
  • Support the development and implementation of industry-driven aviation security initiatives such as Smart Security, Passenger Name Record (PNR) /Advance Passenger Information (API) 
  • Enhance industry standards by promoting the implementation of self-assessment and independent verification audit programs such as the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO)

De Juniac stressed that government support and investment is essential to the security effort.

"Under the guidance of governments, the industry works hard to improve processes and develop new technology to counter the evolving threat to aviation security. Lengthy processes to get new technology into operation is, however, a bottleneck that needs to be fixed,” he said.

 “For example, it’s clear that the long-term solution to mitigating PED threats is better screening technology. But without far greater government investment and support to accelerate development and certification of this new technology, its potential will not be realized."

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years.

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