DUBLIN — Airport security is a pain and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling for a deeper partnership with governments to improve the passenger experience of security and facilitation processes.
Implementation of Smart Security and better use of passenger information provided to governments have the potential to contribute to the dual goals of heightening the effectiveness of security measures and increasing passenger convenience.
“Our customers – the billions of people who fly with no ill intention – continue to tell us that security is the biggest pain point in their journey. We have come a long way since the dark days that followed the 9/11 tragedy. A deepened working partnership of industry and governments has ample scope for further improvements,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Tyler’s comments came at the opening of the AVSEC World aviation security conference – a joint effort of Airports Council International (ACI), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and IATA.
Smart Security is a joint ACI-IATA initiative with a common and clear vision to improve the effectiveness and convenience of airport security processes. Initial process innovations have been tried, tested and are ready for sharing and implementation. The Smart Security Opportunity Assessment program is being launched to work with airports and governments in redefining processes in line with Smart Security best practices.
Amsterdam and Melbourne are among the first airports to redesign security processes with the Smart Security goals in mind.
Known-traveller programs are another key element of the Smart Security program. Such programs allow for a concentration of resources where risk is greater, with low-risk passengers receiving streamlined processing with shorter queueing times. While known-traveller programs have proliferated with respect to border controls there are few examples of their application to airport screening processes.
“The U.S. ‘Pre-Check’ known-traveller program was the pioneer and now has a three-year history covering nearly one in five passengers at U.S. airports. I encourage other governments to learn from this success and move in the same direction,” said Tyler.
More governments require airlines to provide Advance Passenger Information (API) and information contained in Passenger Name Records (PNR). “For all of the information that we are providing governments, there has not been a commensurate improvement in the passenger experience with faster clearance processes and shorter arrival hall queues,” said Tyler.
Tyler also highlighted the challenge that airlines face when government requirements don’t comply with global standards for API that have been agreed by governments through ICAO and the World Customs Organization or with ICAO guidelines for PNR information. He cited an imminent EU directive on PNR information as an example of the complexity when the approach to data collection and transmission is not standardized.
“Instead of a single coordinated European approach with information shared across the EU member states, airlines face up to 28 unique regimes. Each European state is deciding the scope of data to be collected and the method for transfer. Where is the EU-wide common approach? Why aren’t governments sharing the information? Why are there no equivalent measures for train, bus or sea transport? And how could such masses of non-standardized data be analyzed with any degree of efficacy?” asked Tyler.
“I don’t question the authority of states to require such information. But this uncoordinated approach is leading to what looks like an expensive, onerous and likely wasteful effort,” said Tyler.
“We all want the same outcomes: secure air transport and a convenient passenger experience. The only way to ensure that is in a working partnership of industry and government. There is no time to lose in moving ahead. The challenge grows with every new traveller. This year we expect to transport 3.5 billion passengers. In much less than two decades that number will more than double. Business as usual is not an option,” said Tyler.