Airline Industry Presses Governments to Share Security Threats

In comments at this week's Aviation Security World Conference, International Air Transport Association officials expressed concern that governments were leaving them in the dark on potential security concerns in the air. At the same time, the group hopes to see more flexibility at security checkpoints.

The airline industry doesn’t want to know everything—just enough to keep passengers safe.

In comments this week at the 2014 Aviation Security World Conference in Washington, DC, the International Air Transport Association emphasized that the current standards for sharing information between governments and the private sector are not enough to ensure the public’s safety.

“We do need to have information that is accurate, that is consistent and is unequivocal,” IATA CEO Tony Tyler said, according to USA Today. “We have to give it to the people who can use it to make the world safer.”

Tyler’s comments were made about three months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine and more than seven months after another Malaysia Airlines plane went missing. He said trade group members, who constitute about 84 percent of air traffic worldwide, need to have a stronger grasp on security.

Jim Marriott, deputy director for aviation security for the International Civil Aviation Organization’s, a branch of the United Nations, agreed that governments must adapt.

“I’m not confident that we’ll ever reach a perfect solution for security because I know that the adversaries … are always looking for new ways to inflict their damage,” he told USA Today.

IATA Board Chair Calin Rovinescu, who is also the CEO of Air Canada, noted the issues and risks of incomplete information for airlines. He cited the Federal Aviation Administration ordering U.S. airlines not to fly into Tel Aviv, Israel, this summer as an example. Some airlines abided the order, and others did not.

“We found ourselves making decisions about our operations on a daily basis with really confusing and incomplete data,” Rovinescu said in Roll Call.

As for Airports …

IATA is also concerned about preflight security. Tyler suggested that the way that airport security currently works isn’t sustainable, due in part to the changing nature of threats and the rising level of air travel worldwide, according to TravelPulse.

He cited statistics from his group’s 2014 global passenger survey, which found that nearly 60 percent of respondents who have bad security experiences when making a transfer would be likely to change their future travel plans.

“We have no choice but to change,” Tyler said. “If we do not, airport checkpoints will be overwhelmed. Wait times continue to be the biggest checkpoint gripe, according to our survey. They will rise exponentially with more passengers. Efficiency will decline and costs will rise.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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