Basic aviation security being neglected, warns Iata chief

Basic aviation security being neglected, warns Iata chief

More than a third of countries have failed to introduce basic aviation security, the boss of Iata has revealed.

The airline industry body’s director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac made the disclosure while calling for aviation security to be strengthened.

Stressing that global standards are critical to effectively manage the security of a global industry, he said: “States are responsible for implementing effective security measures. Annex 17 of the Chicago Convention – which has been in place for four decades – makes this clear.

“But shockingly 40% of states have struggled to implement even its baseline requirements. This is not good enough.

“Development and implementation are different things – as we clearly see with low levels of compliance to Annex 17 requirements.”

The Iata chief also hit out at governments for using extraterritorial measures such as the US Transportation Security Administration requirement that airlines conduct interviews with passengers flying to the US.

“Such interviews are traditionally done by government authorities. In the short term airlines may seem to be the best positioned to conduct the interviews. But in the long-term, if governments believe that these interviews are critical, then governments themselves should work together to dedicate the resources needed to fulfil that function,” said de Juniac.

Better information sharing and co-ordination on security measures among governments and with the industry is essential, he added.

The differing responses by governments to the threats that resulted in this year’s ban on portable electronic devices on some routes by the US and UK is an example of the confusion that can result.

At its most tragic, it is clear that failure to share information contributed to the loss of the 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which was shot down over Ukraine in 2014, according to de Juniac.

“While governments have the primary responsibility for security, we share the priority of keeping passengers, crew and aircraft secure,” he told an industry conference in Abu Dhabi.

“Intelligence is key. This is the only way to stop terrorists. And we fully support the addition of an information sharing requirement to Annex 17 of the Chicago Convention. It is a step in the right direction, but it falls short of the true multi-lateral information sharing of risk information that is needed.”

It is important for governments to extend information sharing to include airlines.

“Airlines don’t want access to state secrets. But if airlines understand the outcome governments want, they can help with the operational experience to deliver results effectively and efficiently,” said de Juniac.

“We cannot predict the next security challenge. But some things we do know for sure. Our common defence is stronger when governments and industry work together.

“And if we can avoid long term extraterritorial measures, focus on global standards, share information and develop technology efficiently, our hand is strengthened even further.”

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