IATA blasts governments for failing to share necessary information that would improve aviation security
Director General and CEO finds fault with governments’ lack of sharing information
Fails to note that intelligence is HIGHLY CLASSIFIED
His Members’ staffs may be infiltrated
Understanding the government’s limitations
“De Juniac described IATA’s bid to create a “repository of information collected by various states to assess the risk of various non-flying zones or dangerous flying zones … has been a failure”. The IATA boss pinpointed the lack of success to a mindset that was prevalent among the country’s leaders that it’s “difficult for governments to collaborate, to cooperate, (and) to release information.” IATA’s drive to urge nations to exchange information comes at a time when regional geopolitical tensions loom over aviation security.”
AEROPOLITICAL February 2018
The job of Director General and CEO is incredibly difficult. He represents some 280 airlines in 120 countries. They carry 83% of the world’s air traffic and include the world’s leading passenger and cargo airlines. The people, who pay his salary, have disparate operating strategies, operate route networks from small to vast, compete against each other and have banded themselves in alliances which further complicate the IATA dynamics. That list suggests that there are few unifying subjects which Mr. De Juniac can advocate and still please all of his members.
The obvious exception is the common belief by these mostly private companies that the government, particularly when the term is used ambiguously, causes his Members undue burdens/problems. Given that background, it is not surprising that Mr. de Juniac gave the following speech (excerpted) at AVSEC WORLD last October.
Remarks of Alexandre de Juniac at AVSEC WORLD, Abu Dhabi
H.E Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority
E Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General, UAE General Civil Aviation Authority
E. Salman al-Humoud al-Sabah, President of Kuwait's Directorate-General of Civil Aviation
Peter Baumgartner Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
As-Salaam-Alaikum. PED Ban We trust that these measures were guided by reliable intelligence requiring urgent action. Unfortunately, they were imposed unilaterally; and without prior warning or consultation with industry. All affected airlines did their very best to operationalize the restrictions under difficult circumstances—reflecting our commitment to security. But the financial impact was significant. Extraterritorial Measures In the case of PEDs, TSA mandates that airlines flying to the US interview passengers to assess their security risk. Such interviews are traditionally done by government authorities. In the short term airlines may seem to be the best positioned to conduct the interviews. But in the long-term, if governments believe that these interviews are critical, then governments themselves should work together to dedicate the resources needed to fulfill that function. Global Standards That leads to my next message which is the critical importance of global standards. Annex 17 of the Chicago Convention outlines the responsibilities of states in implementing effective security measures. It's been around for over four decades. And it is shocking that about 40% of states are struggling to implement its baseline requirements. Information Sharing The PED episode also illustrated the importance of information sharing—and the degree to which it is still not done effectively among governments, let alone with industry. It was widely reported that the EU and other governments were caught by surprise by this measure. Further, lack of government to government information sharing was clear as different governments implemented different measures to address the same threat, often in inconsistent ways. Technology First, we have largely achieved a global certification methodology for aircraft. But states have not yet developed a system of mutual recognition of standards for security detection equipment. Repeating certification processes slows us down at a time when we need to be speeding up. We fully support the work of the TSA Innovation Task Force and the UK's Future Aviation Security Solutions program (FASS). The innovation in screening detection technology that they are driving is much needed. And it would be a shame if we cannot use the results of their efforts quickly and globally. The second point is that we must make better use of information through technology. We fully support known-traveler programs. The more that we know about the people passing through airport checkpoints, the better a job we can do of screening them.
In adopting the role of the advocate, the IATA Director General and CEO, seems to ignore the realities of today’s terrorists, their tactics, their technology and the difficult mission which the various counter-terrorism governmental organizations have. The essence of the de Juniac’s thesis is found in this quote:
“Unfortunately, they were imposed unilaterally; and without prior warning or consultation with industry.”
Business school textbooks would organize, for example, the TSA PED ban differently; so, the IATA speech would suggest. His ideal process might include advance consultations with all governments; long lead notification to the airlines, assignment of the passenger review responsibilities to the countries from which the flights will depart, and an opportunity for the carriers to publicize the ban.
That implementation process has some flaws:
- not all countries are given equal clearance as to terrorism intelligence
- not all countries would accept the pre-departure responsibilities
- the terrorists are nimble in their tactics; with advance notice of the interdiction, they can alter their equipment and approach
- the terrorists have infiltrated airlines around the world and that network would likely share the counterterrorism defenses with their allies
These observations are supported by the following points made in a number of articles:
- Terrorists’ capacity for innovation
But what the Metrojet attack demonstrates is that terrorist planners have a devious appreciation for what’s called “attack utility;” that is, they know where an attack will have the greatest overall impact. ISIS, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and other groups are dangerous not just because they can make a bomb, but because they know where to put it to maximize the effect.
- Terrorists nimble tacticians
As to why the electronics ban is being imposed now, DHS said in the Q&A statement: “We have reason to be concerned about attempts by terrorist groups to circumvent aviation security and terrorist groups continue to target aviation interests. Implementing additional security measures enhances our ability to mitigate further attempts against the overseas aviation industry.”
- Terrorists’ infiltration of airlines
One of the main trends emerging from recent terror attacks is the attempt to make use of personnel employed by the aviation industry to aid or execute an attack. In many cases, terrorist organizations choose to recruit airport employees in order to transfer weapons to secure areas by bypassing security measures or to carry out the attack themselves. The recruitment of these employees is mostly done via social networks, especially Facebook, which can provide an almost unlimited supply of potential recruits. It should be noted that the recruitment can also be carried out in traditional ways, via other circles of acquaintances such as worshippers in mosques, family, friends and more.
Additional incidents in which airport employees chose to join terror organizations were noted at the Minneapolis – St. Paul international Airport in the United States, including: Abdifatah Ahmed, who filled fuel tanks for aircrafts and worked as a cleaner on planes until he joined the Islamic State; Abdirahmaan Muhumed, who joined the Islamic State from Minnesota, USA, had also worked as a cleaner on planes at the same airport; Shirwa Ahmed, a trolley driver at the airport who transported passengers to the gates of the airport, joined Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen. It should be noted that four years after he joined the organization, he became the first American suicide bomber in Somalia; Abdisalan Hussein Ali, who served coffee at the airport, joined the ranks of Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen and became a suicide terrorist in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Mr. de Juniac should explain the perspective of his members. but he might also acknowledge that the government has limitations. By ignoring the realities faced by the governments, he reduces the likelihood that his intended audience will listen.
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