Tuesday , 5 July 2022
Alexandre de Juniac

Security: IATA says speed needed to keep ahead of threats

INTERNATIONAL Air Transport Association (IATA) has set out four principles to guide governments and industry in responding to and keeping ahead of threats to air travel and air cargo transport security, even as it called on industry and governments to partner to provide durable solutions to aviation’s security challenges.

These were deliberated at the 25th AVSEC World conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hosted by Malaysia Airlines and jointly presented by IATA in partnership with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Airports Council International (ACI).

According to the world airline body, speed is needed to ensure that states keep ahead of threats to aviation security highlighting the principles as risk-based measures to ensure that limited resources are applied where the threats are greatest, information sharing among governments and with industry to enable effective risk-assessments.IATA-300x150.png

Others include implementation of global standards in security systems worldwide to support effective collaboration between all parties in all locations and capacity building supporting the mutual recognition of standards to improve effectiveness and efficiency.

IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac who made the opening remarks at the Kuala Lumpur conference, stated that these efforts, which must be based on common principles, include such areas as overflying conflict zones, landside security at airports, insider threats, cyber security, harmonization of PNR (passenger name record) and API (advance passenger information) requirements and airport checkpoints.

De Juniac said, “Aviation is the ‘business of freedom’—a catalyst for social and economic development that improves people’s lives. Paradoxically, the good that aviation brings also makes it a target for terror. No single entity has all the answers. That’s why partnerships are essential to address our major security challenges with the speed needed to stay a step ahead of those who would do our industry harm. These efforts must keep four common principles in focus: risk-based measures, the implementation of global standards, capacity building to support the mutual recognition of standards, and information sharing among governments and with industry.”

The IATA helmsman also emphasized the necessity of speed in keeping the industry secure. “Speed is of the essence. Threats emerge quickly. And they evolve fast. The four principles will help us to address the threats and challenges we face, but only if we move quickly enough,” said de Juniac.

Expatiating further De Juniac said that applying the principles to the world’s security challenges he highlighted:

Conflict zones: Timely and accurate information is needed to support risk-assessments when overflying conflict zones. “The ICAO conflict zone information repository was an initial step. But it is not the solution. We need to evolve to a system that can function on a continuing basis with a free and fast flow of useful information. Information sharing is not just about conflict zones. If a government has any information about a risk to an airline’s operation, sharing it with the airline could save lives. There is a responsibility to get that information to the airline quickly and by effective means,” said de Juniac.

Landside security in airports: Recent attacks in Brussels and Istanbul have brought this vulnerability to the fore. Local authorities must use intelligence to keep terrorists far away from airports and keep public areas free from threats. In parallel the industry is working on solutions to reduce risk by processing passengers more quickly.

Insider threats: “With eight million people employed in air transport, the threat from insiders is a real challenge. The perfect vetting system has yet to be invented. So intelligence analysis—from governments—is our most potent tool to identify threats especially from radicalization,” said de Juniac.

Cyber security: Nimble layers of protection—security culture—and advanced detection capabilities are needed. All of these must be powered by intelligence and information sharing. Cooperation with governments and across the industry is essential.

Harmonization of API and PNR information requirements: Airlines contribute to intelligence gathering through the collection and provision of API and PNR information. Global standards exist for the collection and provision of this information. These are maintained by IATA and the World Customs Organization, and ICAO.  “Despite the global standards for API and PNR, there are still far too many exceptions on what data is collected and how it is transmitted to governments. The complexity does not make us more secure. In fact, it could lead to risk. The situation is already difficult enough. And it could get much worse. There is already an impasse on PNR and European data privacy requirements which puts airlines in a difficult situation. Moreover, there is no overall international agreement spelling out obligations for handling the exchange of such information,” said de Juniac.

Security checkpoints at airports: Airport checkpoints must be both effective and convenient—the goal of the joint IATA-ACI Smart Security initiative. “Processes have improved, but can still be inconvenient and even intrusive. Smart Security is helping with a growing footprint at airports. But we need to see much faster progress,” said de Juniac.

Real threats

“Security is fundamentally a government responsibility. But making flying ever safer and more secure is engrained in the DNA of all air transport stakeholders. Governments and industry are working together to strengthen our defenses with integrated solutions in the face of evolving security threats,” said de Juniac.

In September a UN Security Council Resolution noted that, “terrorist groups are actively seeking ways to defeat or circumvent aviation security.” The resolution affirmed that “all states have a responsibility to protect the security of citizens and nationals of all nations against terrorist attacks on air services operating within their territory”.

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