[MONTREAL] The United Nation's aviation agency should avoid creating new checkpoints outside airport terminals as it draws up proposed global guidelines to improve security in the wake of recent attacks on travelers, the head of Airports Council International said on Friday.
Angela Gittens, director general of the global airport trade group, said she did not want external checkpoints, which are being debated as a way to deter attacks on airports, to become part of a proposed global security standard for public areas because the additional lineup could create a new target.
The UN's International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) last week discussed creating a new standard that could push countries to come up with security rules for public sections of airports. Security in these so-called landside areas is run by a patchwork of local and state authorities, depending on the country.
"Most airports were not built to have people congregate at doors," Ms Gittens said in her first interview on the proposed standard. "And every time you stop people, you're interfering with what airports were supposed to be doing. You're trapping people in a line where if something did happen these people would not be able to scatter."
Montreal-based ICAO sets standards that its 191 member states typically adopt as regulatory requirements.
The agency's council would vote on any proposed changes to airport security only at year's end, or in 2017, two sources familiar with the confidential talks said on condition of anonymity.
While global security guidelines already exist for closed areas limited to passengers with boarding passes, the ICAO has not set standards for public sections of airports. Even before a March attack on a Brussels airport, the agency was already discussing ways to improve security after a Metrojet plane crashed in Egypt last year.
A US congressional panel heard this week that more than 70,000 American Airlines customers missed their flights this year and 40,000 checked bags failed to be loaded on scheduled flights because of airport screening delays.
One of the sources said the agency had proposed giving guidance on security to member states, but would allow individual countries to draw up their own national security rules for airports.
ICAO spokesman Anthony Philbin said in an email on Friday that it was "far too premature" to comment since the agency was only considering proposed changes. "They are trying to broaden that to say it's not just the access to the flight, it's the safety/security of the passenger before that," he said.