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26 Sep 2016

BY Edward Robertson

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Could airports ban travellers' families and friends for security?

A complete ban on people not ticketed to fly from entering airports could be the answer to ongoing security issues in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.

Heathrow airport, expansion, third runway
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Could airports ban travellers' families and friends for security?

Speaking at a World Routes 2016 Strategy Summit panel session considering the state of the industry in Chengdu, China, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Peter Bellew said he had observed the practice first hand in northern Ireland in the last century when terrorism was a major problem.

 

He believed allowing only those ticketed to fly, which was a standard safety issue as well as making cars park 400 metres from the terminal, could be reintroduced as a solution to today’s terrorist attacks.

 

Bellew said: “Most of the problems in the last couple of years have been landside, they haven’t been airside. Growing up within Ireland you needed a ticket to get into the airport.

 

“Maybe the trend we have to see going forward is if you haven’t got a ticket, you can’t get into the terminal. Maybe people saying bye-bye have no business hanging around the terminal and maybe it would bring the costs down for airports if it brought down the size of the terminal.”

 

Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam agreed the need for increased security was an issue, providing certain balances can be found.

 

He added: “Airports have to do a lot in making the passenger experience better without compromising the security.”

 

IATA regional director – airport, passenger, cargo and security Asia Pacific regional director Vinoop Goel argued one way this could be achieved is by a total rethink of what is required in the modern world.

 

“We need to be smarter about security,” he said. “I think we would all agree that some of the check points we go through (in airports) have not changed in 30 or 40 years when some of the techniques (of terrorist attack) have.

 

“We have to avoid this whole notion that adding in roadblocks or check points provides the solution. We need intelligent information rather than treating everyone like they are bad people.”

 

Schiphol Group executive vice president and chief commercial officer Andre van den Berg said one way of encouraging smarter security thinking would be better collaboration between airlines and airports with a focus on sharing more information.

 

He added: “We are a physical product and we need physical safety as much as possible. (Better) building structures provide more safety but in the end I think it is only part of the solution. We are asking for trust (from the airlines) and we need openness.”

 

Chicago Department of Aviation deputy commissioner for air service development Susan Kurland said she agreed that information sharing was vital for passenger safety. She added in her job alone she will work with numerous different agencies, from the FBI to Chicago police, to ensure passenger safety is second to none.

 

Meanwhile, airlines said the impact of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe had led to varied reactions from key markets.

 

Finnair chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen admitted the airline had seen a reduction in both business and group travellers, although overall growth remains strong.

 

He said: “We did see an impact this year and have been seeing that ever since the number of attacks grew in Europe. China is the biggest affected market, especially the group travel.”

 

Bellew added: “We’ve seen a little bit of a slow down in connections… and European airports have been affected somewhat.”

 

“It is creating an atmosphere of fear,” GebreMariam added. “People are reducing travel and we feel that there is a slow down in demand.” However, he added travel to Europe is bouncing back while other unaffected routes, like those running between China and Africa, remain free from problems.

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