Airports should focus on terrorists and not toothpaste, IATA chief says

A senior aviation official has said the decades-old airport screening process must be replaced with more 'dynamic' techniques.

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DUBAI // The aviation industry must update the decades-old airport screening process by using more "dynamic" screening techniques such as leveraging intelligence and profiling passengers, said the head of International Air Transport Association.

"The focus must shift from looking for bad objects to finding terrorists - bad people," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general. "Belts, shoes and shampoo are not the problem. We must combine effective information from the enormous amount of passenger data that we collect with technology that can screen for more things than just metal. This will give us a dynamic system that can deal with changing threats."

The aviation industry has learned much in recent years, Mr Bisignani said, even with the new risks exposed by the Yemen parcel bomb.

Significant lessons were learned particularly since the "security wake-up call" from last year's failed Christmas Day bombing, when a Nigerian student attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his underpants on a Detroit-bound flight.

"Critical information was not used intelligently. Airport processes did not work. The terrorist's methodology was new and governments responded ineffectively," he said in a speech to an aviation security summit in Frankfurt.

"Aviation remains a target for terrorism", said Mr Bisignani, and processes, including collaboration between governments and the aviation industry, must improve to cope with modern threats.