The trade association of the world’s airlines, International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on the European Commission and the US government to adopt additional airport safety measures rather than expand the current, controversial ban on personal electronic devices (PEDs) in the cabin of flights from Middle Eastern and North African countries.
In a letter to EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc and US secretary of homeland security John Kelly, IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac warns member carriers have “serious concerns regarding the negative impact any expansion of the ban on PEDs in the aircraft cabin will have on airline passengers, commercial aviation and the global economy”.
The association expects that an expansion of the ban to flights from Europe will have “significantly higher negative impacts than the existing measures”. Citing potential difficulties for passengers and airlines, de Juniac asserts that “businesses will cancel trips rather than risk having laptops checked due to risk to confidential information”.
Instead, he proposes adoption of several “alternative measures [that] would enhance security whilst reducing the impact on airlines and our passengers”. These includes explosive trace detection checks on a random basis. Security staff could “visually inspect the device for signs of tampering and determine the provenance of the device by questioning the passenger as to the purposes for carrying a device”, de Juniac says.
He adds that “behavioural dectection officers” could be deployed for patrols both land- and airside with dogs serving as a deterrent. Meanwhile, “trusted traveller programmes” could be used to identify high-risk passengers.
De Juniac acknowledges that state authorities may need to implement security measures in response to “credible threat intelligence”. But he says: “We urge all regulators to weigh the impacts of such measures on the passenger, the economy and the airlines.”