Asia-Pacific Group Demands an End to ‘Security Theater’

 - December 3, 2012, 12:50 PM
The Asia Pacific Airlines Association, led by director general Andrew Herdman, wants a fundamental rethink of air transport security.

The Asia Pacific Airlines Association (AAPA) has called for a shake-up of aviation security management in the region, arguing that the current approach–accounting for 25 percent of total airport costs–is inadequate.

“What we have today is nothing short of a ‘mistrusted traveler program’ with 100-percent enrollment,” said AAPA director general Andrew Herdman at the group’s 56th annual Assembly of Presidents last month. “Harsher critics have characterized current passenger screening procedures as ritualistic ‘security theater.’ We need a fundamental rethink [and] to break free of the current mindset that by default treats every passenger as a potential terrorist.”

Herdman also criticized authorities in the West for inefficient processing of passengers, suggesting that they are failing to respond to the growing demand for long-haul travel by Asian passengers. “Asians want to travel to the U.S. and Europe, if you let them,” he said. “Given the fact that most passengers’ details have already been provided in advance to the governments involved, one might expect smoother processing of arriving passengers.”

AAPA members backed a resolution calling on governments to develop and implement intelligence-led, outcome-based security measures that balance risks against the costs and inconvenience posed to travelers. Other security issues now being addressed by AAPA include plans to introduce a best-practice document to help airlines deal with unruly passengers, harmonization of security programs and addressing the threat of man-portable air defense systems, or shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

On the issue of air cargo security, AAPA said the robustness of the international freight industry depends on a web of trusted relationships among the many stakeholders involved. “In the face of further attempts by the U.S and other governments to impose unilateral new cargo security measures, AAPA calls on governments to recognize the benefits of adherence to common global standards established by ICAO, thereby responding more effectively to the needs of the air cargo supply chain,” said Herdman.