SECTIONS

IATA seeks to ease airport security checks

By John Oyuke

Kenyans flying to other parts of the world could soon enjoy hassle-free journeys when passing through airports to take connecting flights.

This follows accelerated push by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for a "One-Stop Security" concept.

France is the latest country to join European Union countries allowing the practice for passengers arriving from another EU airports.

In the country, one-stop security checks for passengers and their hand luggage would be applied to individual airports this year, starting with Lyon and selected terminals at Paris Charles de Gaulle.

While welcoming the move, International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director-General Giovanni Bisignani said although the concept is not new, the next step is to integrate it into the global system.

He said it was a waste of time, effort and resources to ask passengers to stand again for security checks if a competent authority has already inspected them a few hours earlier. "This frustrates passengers and drains security resources," he said last week. About one out of four passengers at the top 120 airports worldwide are connecting passengers, representing more than 325 million passengers each year.

Cost-efficiency

Bisignani said the concept is a priority within its security strategy based on threat and risk assessment, innovation, technology and cost-efficiency.

"We need more governments to exchange information with each other and conclude agreements that recognise their security measures as equivalent," he said. IATA, representing 230 airlines comprising 93 per cent of scheduled international air traffic, says the business case for One-Stop Security is clear.

The case, it adds, offers faster, hassle-free connections for passengers and lower security costs for everyone and there is no compromise on quality.

Although Europe has implemented the one-stop security for a decade, the concept has failed to move outside the region, partly because of the elevated security measures put in place after 9/11 events in the US. IATA Director, Security and Facilitation Georgina Graham says adoption of the concept does not mean security is being downgraded. "This is because the fact is 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 explained.

However, she adds, individual airports would have to make adjustments suitable to their needs.