Bloomberg News

Air Passengers Should Be Separated by Security Risk, IATA Says

October 04, 2011

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Airport security would be cheaper and more effective if passengers were divided up according to risk, the head of the International Air Transport Association said.

The aviation industry spends $4.7 billion a year on security in the aftermath of the attacks at the World Trade Center in New York 10 years ago, Tony Tyler, chief executive officer of the trade group, said today in Amsterdam.

“We have not made it any more intelligent,” he said, speaking at an air security conference. “For the billions of dollars we spend, we could do a lot better.”

The CEO called for an overhaul of airport security scanning and said airline passengers should be screened with their bags, without having to stop, remove clothing or unpack.

IATA favors splitting passengers into three categories: “normal,” “enhanced,” and “known traveler,” based on customs and immigrations data and information about their travel arrangements such as the payment method.

Based on the risk-assessment the passengers would be guided through different lanes, with limited scanning for “well- known” customers and more extensive security screening, including body scans and explosive trace detectors, for higher- risk passengers.

‘Well-Known’ Fliers

To obtain the “well-known” customer qualification, travelers would have to provide background data to governments.

Such a program has already started on a trial basis at four airports in U.S., John Pistole, head of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, said at the conference.

The question is “how can we treat those we have confidence in better,” Pistole said. “We should use our resources to focus on who we know less about.”

The new model of security systems could be available to airports worldwide within three to seven years, Tyler said in a press conference.

--Editors: Thomas Mulier, Christopher Jasper

To contact the reporter on this story: Maaike Noordhuis in Amsterdam at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at

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