Air travellers changing flights at international airports may have hassle-free journeys if governments across the globe amend laws and procedures and standardise their security apparatus to implement the concept of ‘one-stop security’.
Despite the heightened security measures at airports across the globe due to terror threats,the concept is being actively pursued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The ‘one-stop security’ concept entails that a passenger,who has undergone stringent checks at the point of origin,is not frisked and checked again when he or she catches a connecting flight. Such passengers would have to be kept in separate enclosures so that they do not get mixed up with those who need to go through security checks.
The IATA is proposing the concept also for passenger baggage as well as air cargo so that once the security controls are applied properly to ensure secure baggage and cargo,no further screening or inspection during trans-shipment should be required.
Explaining the concept,IATA Director (Security and Facilitation) Georgina Graham said under this system the passenger travelling without break and changing flights for the final destination need not be checked at the second airport.
“This,however,does not mean that security is being downgraded because,in fact,you were screened adequately at the point of origin and within that time-frame you have had no opportunity to take on board or get rid of anything that you had,” she said.
The IATA,the umbrella body of world airlines,is working with some major airports in the US and Europe to launch a pilot project for ‘one-stop security’,Graham said in an interview.
She said the concept would not only enhance passenger facilitation but also reduce duplicating measures while maintaining security.
Noting that about 1.6 billion passengers travel by air every year,IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani had earlier said that simplifying the approach towards security with standardisation of rules was essential.
The urgent situation after the 9/11 attacks resulted in “uncoordinated actions by governments. We kept pace with often chaotic results. The approach of the governments to security is still fragmented. This is not acceptable. We need to battle terrorism,not paperwork,” he had said.
The chief of the IATA,the organisation that has estimated that the industry spends over USD five billion on security,said that states must defend their citizens and asked why air travellers should be forced to pay for their security when it is provided by the governments in trains,discos,public parks or at home.
“Paying for security is not a subsidy,it is a State responsibility,” he said.
In the same vein,the IATA Security Director said the global body would encourage governments to recognise each other’s security measures,receive assurance of adequate screening at the point of origin,exchange information and improve collaboration.
Graham said airports that undertake to introduce this concept would have to make some changes to implement one-stop security,like finding a way to keep passengers who are coming from an agreed one-stop security originating point separate from those who are not.
This would mean that a concourse is kept exclusively for passengers arriving from one-stop security destinations.
“These destinations will have to be agreed upon,either bilaterally or multilaterally (by respective governments and aviation authorities). You have to have the understanding and trust that Country A has done the screening to adequate levels and then all the flights from Country A will arrive at this particular concourse at the airport,” Graham said.
It would also involve some level of standardisation of security apparatus and systems in Countries A and B.
To begin with,the IATA has started working with some countries and airports in the European Union and the United States. “We looked at the top 10 airports in Europe and North America. That will be the nucleus,the first part of this phased approach. … They are moving in that direction,” she said.
The next country where one-stop security could be introduced is Singapore as it has an agreement with the EU on liquid aerosols and gels,Graham said,adding then it could be implemented possibly in Australia.
“If Singapore can have the agreement with the EU then potentially it means that Singapore might be able to have this agreement with North America also if North America has an agreement with the EU. And then,it is sort of concentric circles going out from there,” she said.
Implementing this concept at Indian airports would take time as there have been no talks as yet on the issue with any airport operator here,Graham said.
“We have not gone as far as looking at India at the moment. It will certainly be on the map because when you look at the connecting traffic,you look at the airports that the people are connecting from and India is one such market,” Graham said.
The IATA recently adopted a resolution to eliminate inefficiencies in order to make ‘one-stop security’ a reality.