Airport screening shouldn't be first line of defence: Experts | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Airport screening shouldn't be first line of defence: Experts

delhi Updated: Nov 07, 2010 09:04 IST

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With airport security across the globe being further tightened in the wake of recovery of parcel bombs from Yemen destined for the US, aviation experts have stressed that airport screening should not be the first line of defence.

Security measures for air cargo should begin right from the places where they are packed, aviation and security experts felt.

The thrust of airport security should not just be on belts, shoes and shampoos but more so on cargo and its entire supply chain. Too much focus on technology and not much on "security culture" would not help, they said.

Lack of standardised security training in the industry, lack of coordination among various agencies working in the airports and too many casual workers, have been identified as areas which are vulnerable, the experts said.

Besides transporting explosives aboard planes destined for the US allegedly by Yemen-based al Qaeda operatives, there have been a series of cases where vehicles have either crossed into the normally secured zones of airports in different parts of the globe, including a recent case in Mumbai where a taxi got inside.

Global airlines' body International Air Transport Association (IATA) has asked security regulators across the globe to work together to build an airport checkpoint of the future which will tighten security and ease passenger hassle.

"Airport screening cannot be our first line of defence but it is an effective complement to intelligence and supply chain solutions," IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani said at a aviation security conference in Frankfurt last week.

"Belts, shoes and shampoos are not the problem. We must shift the screening focus from looking for bad objects to finding terrorists. To do this effectively, we need intelligence and technology at the checkpoint. "The overall process must become much quicker and more convenient. It is not acceptable to treat passengers as terrorists until they prove themselves innocent," he said.

A leading security expert, who refused to be named, said while security has improved over the years, problems still persist at airports which handle freight goods.

IATA has estimated that air cargo carried globally was worth about USD 26 billion last year, which is likely to go up to USD 38 billion by 2014. This represents almost 35 per cent of the total value of goods traded internationally.