IATA is calling on governments to find alternatives to the electronic bans issued by the US and the UK, which it says cause serious “commercial distortions”, and to practise better information-sharing so as to more effectively fight terror threats.
“The measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate. Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
“The commercial distortions they create are severe. We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics,” de Juniac urged. “Governments must act quickly,” he added.
In his speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, de Juniac also highlighted the need to maintain public confidence in the security of the global aviation industry, which operates 100,000 flights a day on average.
The bans were reportedly imposed after the US and UK received intelligence on explosives being concealed in laptops.
De Juniac stressed: “While governments have the primary responsibility for security, we share the priority of keeping passengers, crew and aircraft secure. To do that effectively, intelligence is king. And it needs to be shared amongst governments and with the industry. It’s the only way to stop terrorists before they get near an airport, let alone aircraft.”
However, he made clear that airlines are not seeking access to state secrets, but to understand the outcome governments want.
Challenges to aviation security were highlighted in Resolution 2309 of the UN Security Council which tasked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop a Global Aviation Security Plan, for which de Juniac said “states need to lend their full support”.
And in May, ICAO member states will consider amendments to Annex 17 of the Chicago convention that would require information sharing. “The security experience of recent years should compel states to support this,” de Juniac reiterated.