Dubai: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments to urgently find alternatives to recently announced measures by the United States and the United Kingdom to restrict the carry-on of large electronic items on certain flights departing the Middle East and North Africa.
US-bound airline passengers from the UAE are placed among a dozen countries banned from carrying large electronics devices such as laptops and cameras on board flights.
The new rules will concern between eight and thirteen Middle East and North African countries, including the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
“The current 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. And 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,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
De Juniac made this demand in a speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations in which he highlighted the need to maintain public confidence in the security of the global aviation industry which safely and security operates an average 100,000 flights a day.
“With the measures now in place, our passengers and member airlines are asking valid questions. Why don’t the US and the UK have a common list of airports? How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others, including flights departing from the same airport? And surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively? The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travelers. We must find a better way. And Governments must act quickly,” said de Juniac.
IATA also expressed frustration at the process used by governments to put in place the security measures which was woefully lacking. “The industry came together quickly to implement the new requirements. That was a challenge because there was no prior consultation and little coordination by governments,” said de Juniac.
IATA has long called for better information sharing and coordination on security measures among governments and with the industry.
“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,” de Juniac.
Moreover, cooperation between industry and governments yields a better result. “Airlines don’t want access to state secrets. But if airlines understand the outcome governments want, they can help with the operational experience to deliver that result effectively and efficiently,” said de Juniac.