Carrying 200 laptops in the bellyhold of an aircraft is dangerous and violates all safety norms, the global airlines’ body IATA has said, asserting that a ban on personal electronic devices (PEDs) on board flights was “not effective”. “We don’t deny the threat. There is a real threat (from PEDs). But the ban is not effective,” IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac told PTI in an interview here. He said the confidence of the public and the airline industry has been rattled by inconsistencies in how some states have responded to concerns over the potential for explosives to be concealed in large portable electronic devices. Carrying 200 laptops in the bellyhold of an aircraft “is dangerous and against all safety regulations”, he said, quoting a top executive of an airline who pointed this out at a panel discussion during the three-day World Air Transport Summit here.
However, “we must trust that valid intelligence underpinned the UK and the US decisions to ban large PEDs on flights from some African and Middle Eastern airports. But, the measures themselves test the confidence of the industry and the public. We need to get security right. “There is a clear duty for governments to make sure that the measures are logical, effective and efficient. That is not the case with the current PED ban. And it must change,” the chief of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in response to questions. Recently, the US and the UK barred passengers from carrying electronic devices, including laptops, in their hand baggage, while flying from certain countries, citing security concerns. The devices have to be checked in.
He said greater collaboration was needed among all governments and the airline industry stakeholders to keep flying secure by adopting a standardised global approach to check aviation security risks while minimising disruption to passengers. “Aviation is a target for terrorists’ intent on destroying the freedom that is at the heart of our business. Information sharing among governments and with the industry is the key to staying a step ahead of emerging threats. “We have the same goals — to keep passengers and crew safe. So it only makes sense that we work together as closely as possible,” de Juniac said.
The summit, being attended by over 1,000 representatives of airlines, airports and other stakeholders, unanimously adopted a resolution highlighting the importance of UN Security Council Resolution 2309, which calls governments to meet their responsibility to keep citizens secure while travelling by air.
It also reaffirmed the industry’s strong support for the development of the Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP) by the UN body, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). “GASeP must be a pragmatic and nimble framework for all parties involved in aviation security to work together. No single entity has all the answers. By combining our strengths more efficiently, the security of passengers and crew will be better served,” said de Juniac.
The resolution urges the governments to engage the industry in early dialogue when faced with a security threat to ensure that workable and effective response measures are developed that can be implemented efficiently to maximise passenger safety and minimise disruption. The airlines also asked the governments to work in partnership with each other and with airlines, airports and other aviation security stakeholders to develop effective, long-term, security measures that effectively counter threats to aviation. Asking the governments to take greater accountability for the implementation of ICAO standards and security measures, the resolution calls for fast-tracking of the GASeP roadmap into National Civil Aviation Security Programmes as soon as possible.
The IATA called upon governments to adopt alternatives to the current ban. “In the short-term, these include more intense screening at the gate and skills training. In the medium-term, faster and more advanced explosive detection technology is the solution to evolving bomb threats. But painfully slow certification processes must be accelerated so that we can actually use it,” said de Juniac. He said “it’s clear that the long-term solution to mitigating PED threats is better screening technology. But without far greater government investment and support to accelerate development and certification of this new technology, its potential will not be realised.”
Such steps “highlight the reason why we need better information sharing and better coordination to achieve risk mitigation measures that maximise the protection of passengers and crew while minimising unnecessary disruption,” de Juniac said. The IATA has already opposed the ban on carrying of laptops and said it was done without consulting the aviation industry. The resolution also recognised the important role of industry in helping governments to keep flying secure.