IATA urges better coordination, information sharing for aviation security

Indo Asian News Service

Montreal, March 29 (IANS) Expressing concern at the US and UK governments' restrictions on carrying electronic devices onboard inbound flights, global airlines association IATA on Wednesday said that better coordination on security measures and sharing information between the global aviation industry and governments would yield better results to stop terrorists at airports.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the the US and UK governments' move may create "commercial distortions".

"While governments have the primary responsibility for security, we share the priority of keeping passengers, crew and aircraft secure. To do that effectively intelligence is king," Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and Chief Executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said in a statement.

"And it needs to be shared amongst governments and with the industry. It's the only way to stop terrorists before they get near an airport, let alone aircraft."

The statement said the IATA has long called for better information sharing and coordination on security measures among governments and with the industry.

IATA expressed concern that the aviation security measures adopted by the US and the UK to restrict the carry-on of large electronic items on flights inbound from certain countries of the Middle East and North Africa were not an "acceptable long-term solution".

"The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate. Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe," de Juniac pointed out.

"We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics."

The global airlines body also expressed disappointment at the process used by governments to put in place the security measures.

"The industry came together quickly to implement the new requirements. That was a challenge because there was no prior consultation and little coordination by governments," said de Juniac.

Earlier, the UK government had announced changes to aviation security measures on selected inbound flights to the UK that restricted the size of electronic items that may be carried by passengers in the cabin, affecting the inbound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.

Similarly, the US government announced restrictions on the type of electronic items that may be carried onboard flights to the US from certain airports.

The data from IATA calculations had reflected that the ban would impact about 393 scheduled passenger flights per week, equivalent to about 2.7 per cent of the total international scheduled passenger flights to the UK, and about 350 scheduled flights a week, equivalent to about 2 per cent of total international flights to the US.

"The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travellers. We must find a better way. And governments must act quickly," de Juniac said in a speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, highlighting the need to maintain public confidence in the security of the global aviation industry which operates an average 100,000 flights a day.

The IATA represents 265 airlines comprising 83 per cent of global air traffic.

--IANS

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