x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

'High-risk' flyers face tougher security checks: IATA

'Known travellers' should get simple security checks, with greater checks for those about whom less is known, says airline lobby group IATA.

New layers of airport security screening procedures have been added around the world after attempted or planned attacks with explosives.
New layers of airport security screening procedures have been added around the world after attempted or planned attacks with explosives.

GENEVA // The airline industry's largest lobbying group plans to radically alter 40-year-old passenger screening methods that it says can no longer cope with today's security demands.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says it will work with governments and airports over the next two to three years to introduce the first versions of its proposed "IATA Tunnel", which would integrate airline passenger data from the passengers themselves and government security agencies to create three screening tunnels. This would speed up screening procedures and do away with a one-size-fits-all strategy, IATA said.

The three lanes would constitute one "known traveller lane" for passengers who are considered the lowest risk, either because they have provided a high level of information about themselves or could be frequent travellers. These travellers would be subjected to a base level of security, while a second, enhanced security lane would have more stringent screening methods for passengers for whom no information was known. A third lane would handle the majority of travellers falling in between these two categories.

Giovanni Bisignani, the director general and chief executive of IATA, said: "The biggest problem we have now is the hassle at too many airports for our passengers." "The biggest problem we have now is the hassle at too many airports for our passengers,' said

Complicated layers of security screening procedures have been added around the world after attempted or planned attacks, with explosives in passengers' shoes, in liquids, or in one case, underwear. Some of these methods, in particular in the US and Europe, have even become the object of public protest.

Mr Bisignani said: "We have to be able to find bad people and not just bad objects. How do we do it? With a combination of technology and intelligence."

Under the proposals, passengers would approach a kiosk and identify themselves with a fingerprint, their passport, and with a mobile phone boarding pass. The information would be analysed by the airline and intelligence and security agencies to assess risk factors, such as if the traveller paid in cash, was travelling with luggage, or was included on any government watch lists, Mr Bisignani said.

Based on the information, the traveller would be invited to join one of the three tunnels.

Kenneth Dunlap, the director of security and travel facilitation at IATA, said early versions of the tunnel system would still include today's screening equipment, such as body scanners, metal detection and baggage screening equipment, and airports would decide the screening process for each lane.

But the system would also include more cutting-edge technologies under development, such as explosives detection systems, including some equipment similar to today's CAT scan machines used for medical examinations, Mr Dunlap said.

Like the proposed changes to passenger screenings, IATA believes reform is also needed in the air cargo industry, which was severely disrupted in October by a foiled attempt in Yemen to blow up cargo planes bound for the US in mid-flight. The consequences are still being felt, with logistics firms such as Aramex, based in Dubai, refusing to accept cargo from Yemen.

IATA wants to push for a globally accepted assurance system to identify lower-risk packages and higher-risk packages.

Mr Bisignani said: "We think we need a risk-based approach, and identify in the value chain whether a package is coming from a certified provider." The alternative, which some politicians have proposed, is 100 per cent screening for all cargo, which IATA believes would severely disrupt international trade. At present, air cargo ships 30 per cent of all global trade by value. "If you require 100 per cent screening you would physically stop the work," Mr Bisignani said.

igale@thenational.ae