Current passenger security procedures are “not sustainable for the long term” because rapid global air-traffic growth threatens to overwhelm the capacity of screening checkpoints, according to the chief executive of the airline industry’s leading international trade group.
Tony Tyler , CEO of the International Air Transport Association, told a security conference here that passenger and cargo security must be revised and updated to cope with changing threats.
The IATA chief said that today’s passenger screening efforts world-wide are “neither efficient nor user-friendly,” so “we have no choice but to change.”
If that doesn’t occur, he warned, “airport checkpoints will be overwhelmed” and “wait times will increase exponentially” as global passenger traffic is projected to double over roughly the next two decades.
Unless security checks focus more closely on potentially higher-risk passengers while devoting less attention to those registered in frequent traveler or voluntary screening programs, Mr. Tyler predicted “efficiency will decline and costs will rise.”
From sharing data on airspace hazards stemming from conflict zones to smarter passenger screening efforts, Mr. Tyler also said carriers and governments “have not achieved a satisfactory level of cooperation when it comes to security.”
The IATA chief said the two Malaysian airliners that went down earlier this year revealed gaps in security systems that “cannot be closed with a business as usual attitude.” One jet disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March, after it dropped off radar coverage and some onboard systems were disabled. The other jet was shot down over Ukraine by an antiaircraft missile, according to investigators.
IATA officials, among other things, want closer government and industry cooperation on a broad array of security issues. Mr. Tyler reiterated proposals to move all air cargo shipments toward electronic documentation and away from paper documents.
Calin Rovinescu, chief executive of Air Canada and chairman of IATA’s Board of Governors, told the conference that “confusing and often contradictory” information about dangers posed by conflict zones makes it hard for carriers to accurately gauge risks of overflights.
International aviation standards and rules are needed to properly collect, analyze and disseminate such threat data in a timely manner, Mr. Rovinescu said. “Airlines are not the CIA” and aren’t set up to independently ferret out information about antiaircraft missiles or other weapons that could endanger civil aviation, he said.