06.04.17: Latest Aviation Security
It has been just over a week since the announcement that electronic items bigger than a smart phone, now need to be placed in the hold of inbound UK flights from listed countries1. I will start by saying, I do not know what information and intelligence prompted the Government to take these measures. Interestingly, the measures taken by the UK Government varied from those of the US2. The US pinpointed Airports and carriers whilst the (Department for Transport) (DfT) put the restriction on all direct flights from listed countries. This would have been the result of the independent UK threat and risk assessment process and would on the face of it, seem a more logical step as generally, aviation security is regulated at country level, by an appropriate authority, who will also oversee quality and standards. By listing countries, it will also apply to ad hoc charter flights to minor airports in those countries.
It would appear from the adoption of these measures that the concerns lie around the screening of hand baggage in listed countries. Standards, technologies and procedures vary greatly and the DfT is well placed to assess these against the perceived threat. In recent times, the DfT has invested a large amount of money in recruiting and training Aviation Security Liaison officers to work with other countries to assist them in capacity building and improving security standards. This is backed up by a programme of training and assistance. The objective is to push the security perimeter further out to protect the UK by assisting countries and thereby improving standards and minimising risk to travellers by preventing subversives from accessing the transport network outside of the UK. The programme also improves cooperation which is vital in cross border security. This strategy has been adopted by a number of countries including the EU.
There has been criticism of the measures in the media but it seems, like me, none of the critics has the information the Government have. At times, we have to trust the judgement of the government and work to minimise the disruption to the passengers and crew. Yes, it will cause confusion and some disruption to passengers and operators as the liquid restrictions have and, continue to do, but air travellers and the industry are resilient to such changes and will adapt to the measures as they have in the past, to meet the evolving threats.
1Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia
2 Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey.