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In the wake of March’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, the global travel industry began to collectively brainstorm ideas for how to make the world’s airports safer for passengers. One suggestion is curbside security, which would require anyone entering an airport to go through a security screening. The idea has found support with government leaders and Homeland Security. There’s just one problem: the airlines aren’t on board.
While safety is clearly a key concern for the major airlines, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — a trade association that represents approximately 260 airlines worldwide — isn’t convinced of the plan’s effectiveness, and is concerned about how such a move would impact the already-increasing time it takes for passengers to get from the front door of an airport to their window seat.
“The current system of airport screening is effective but extremely expensive,” says Tony Tyler, the IATA’s CEO. “Passengers routinely rate it as the worst aspect of their journey.” Given the long wait times that passengers are currently enduring, coupled with what looks to be a record summer for airline travel, the IATA and its members, according to Bloomberg, “favor the streamlining of security through a risk-based approach and wider adoption of more modern systems including self-service technology that would raise the hurdles facing would-be terrorists.”
In addition to longer lines and the very real possibility of travelers having to stand outside in rain, snow and other inclement weather, the organization worries that curbside security could actually have the opposite effect on passenger safety, creating “large crowds that could themselves become the target of attacks.”
For Tyler, the key to improved security is an open line of communication between airlines and governments. “Airlines rely on governments to keep passengers and employees secure as part of their responsibility for national security. And we are committed to working with them in that challenging task,” he said at the organization’s annual general meeting in Dublin yesterday, adding that, “Intelligence is the most powerful tool that governments have to protect their citizens wherever they are — at work, in their homes or while traveling. One of the biggest risk areas are large crowds. Industry is helping to bolster these efforts with practical measures — Smart Security and Fast Travel — that will mitigate risk by reducing airport queues.”
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