The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reacted quickly to new U.S. security policies, saying it understands the need for government-mandated emergency security measures as a result of the attempted downing of Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas. "Security is a government responsibility," the IATA said in a statement. "Emergency measures should be revised as information is gathered in the investigation." Long-term, sustainable aviation security must be globally harmonized, risk-based and have efficient processes for passengers."
The announcement by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace the original emergency requirement for 100 percent pat-down screening of all U.S.-bound passengers with threat based and random screening is a welcome step in the right direction for the IATA. "One lesson already learned from this incident is the importance of combining screening procedures with intelligence," IATA said. "Following the new TSA announcement, IATA calls on DHS and TSA to work with their international counterparts to look at a next generation checkpoint. This should give screeners access to effective intelligence to deliver proportional screening measures based on intelligence driven risk assessments."
The TSA announcement is in line with requests made by IATA in a letter to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on December 29. "It is critical that DHS partner with industry to identify the most effective and efficient ways to address this challenge going forward," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. "Clearly, the air transport system cannot support 100 percent pat-down searches over the long term. However, a smaller percentage of intensive pat downs accompanied by trace detection technology may reduce delays and achieve near-term security requirements as we focus on longer-term technology solutions to address the ongoing threat."
IATA continues to urge the U.S. and other governments to coordinate security requirements and to work closely with industry for their effective implementation.