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Security threat a major concern for airlines - expert

Apr 08 2016 11:18
Carin Smith

Dallas – The big question when it comes to solving the airline industry's security threat is whether there is sufficient will to address it, according to American Airlines president Scott Kirby.

“I am worried about whether there is a will to solve the security problem,” he said at the global summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in Dallas.

“What is needed to address the security issue is more staff deployed to handle security in the aviation industry, but is there the will to go to this extra expense?” he asked.

“We want people to come to the US, but we have had cases of people having to wait five hours to get through the airport security.”

He said American Airlines is more than willing to work with airports to try and find constructive ways to solve the consequences of longer waiting times due to security procedures.

“We have thousands of customers missing flights because they are stuck in security, so the government must step and see that there are more staff to handle passengers,” Kirby emphasised.

Another issue raised by him is the one of open skies.

“We are in favour of open skies, but it must be fair competition. We cannot compete with airlines getting $50bn subsidies,” he said.

In his view Middle Eastern airlines are the “biggest threat to the airline industry” as their prices are not sustainable for airlines which are not being subsidised.

Karl Ulrich Garnadt, a member of the executive board of Lufthansa, agreed with Kirby.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet regarding the impact of Gulf carriers,” he told Kirby.

According to Garnadt, Gulf carriers in the European airline market have seven times the capacity and dominate, for example,  the market between Europe and South East Asia.

“In Europe there is one single economic zone and open skies and open competition is good. But this is only as long as there is a regulatory framework and an equal playing field,” said Garnadt.

“The regulatory framework must provide equal opportunities. We want transparency, and the same rules and regulations applying to everybody.”

As for the challenge of security, he said ways must be found between airports, police authorities and airlines to find solutions.

“Yet no such solutions have been found,” he said.

“In Frankfurt airport there are now more staff, but this puts up the cost paid by airlines.”

Fin24 is the guest of WTTC at its global summit.


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