Governments need to cooperate more closely with the industry when developing aviation security measures, following a year where various countries implemented new security rules unilaterally, adding heavily to security costs.
Security measures should be risk-based, outcome-focused and proportionate to the probable threat, and not about the elimination of every conceivable risk, says Andrew Herdman, director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).
“Unilateral actions taken by individual governments reacting to emerging threats may result in unnecessary disruption or lead to unintended safety consequences,” he adds.
The issue was also raised by IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac at the AAPA annual assembly in Taipei last week. He calls it “concerning and disturbing” that countries such as the US, United Kingdom and China have announced unilateral measures without any prior consultation with the industry.
While governments may be reluctant to share information and sources when there is a risk of immediate danger, he does not understand why that persists when there are no particular emergencies.
“They take decisions unilaterally without consulting with the industry, and then discover days or weeks after that there are problems to implementation,” de Juniac says at a media roundtable.
“What we say is that we’re not security experts, but we know how to fly securely. We fly 10 million people every day so at least we have something to say and bring onto the table.”
Earlier this year, the US and UK governments introduced a controversial ban on large electronic devices in carry-on baggage on flights from some Middle East countries. China has also recently introduced new and unique requirements for handling PEDs without consultation with the industry, de Juniac adds.
IATA estimates that the aviation security bill is in excess of $ 8 billion, adding that the figure is probably “a large underestimation”.
Herdman points out that the extra security measures mean additional costs since frontline staff needs to be trained, explosive trace detection equipment and sniffer dogs deployed, and longer time allocated for security checks.
“The additional manpower and work. Who pays and provides it? Is it the airline, agency, airport or the government? The passenger ultimately pays the costs.”
De Juniac adds that with the security threat hanging over the aviation sector, the way forward is for airports to invest in new technologies such as facial and iris recognition.