As Western airlines once again become the focus of terrorist threat, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) is highlighting the ongoing importance of aviation security in the fight against extremism.
A plot by Yemen-based members of terrorist group Al-Qaida to smuggle explosive materials within innocuous-looking printer cartridges on US cargo planes was uncovered late last week, causing authorities on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as in Yemen itself, to increase airport security.
Closer to home, at Belfast International Airport, the police called Army bomb experts to examine a suspicious vehicle left at the airport's long-stay car park last weekend.
This news comes as UK pilots backed British Airways Chairman, Martin Broughton, after he criticised airport security measures in the UK, branding them "heavy handed" and "unnecessary".
Rob Davies, speaking on behalf of the BSIA's Civil Aviation Section, commented: "The terror threat to the UK is, by nature, diverse and ever-changing, with terrorist groups constantly developing new methods of attacking our country's transport network. The fact that these recent developments have come so soon after UK pilots denounced current security measures serves as a harsh reminder that complacency in the fight against terrorism is simply not an option."
"The BSIA believes that under the current climate of serious terrorist threat high levels of airport security are an essential defence both for the travelling public and for potential victims on the ground. What has been dismissed as a "catch all" approach addresses known and potential security threats, and terrorists would quickly adapt their methods should any aspect of security be given a lower priority. We also recognise that there are some discrepancies on how certain rules are applied at different airports in the UK and that strict guidelines should be issued and observed to ensure all airports offer the maximum levels of safety and security.
The government's emergency committee, COBRA, chaired by David Cameron, met yesterday to discuss whether the Yemen-based threat indicated a need for stricter security procedures relating to air freight. Yemeni authorities have also pledged to step up security measures at their nation's airports.
Rob Davies concludes: "Ever since 9/11, air travel has been synonymous with high levels of security. It's imperative that we continue to learn from those tragic events and remain committed to developing effective security measures. BSIA members are at the forefront of the provision of effective airport security, and it's our view that complacency is simply not an option."
To find out more about the BSIA's Civil Aviation Section, visit www.bsia.co.uk/aviation
The British Security Industry Association is the trade association covering all aspects of the professional security industry in the UK. Its members provide over 70% of UK security products and services and adhere to strict quality standards. For more information see www.bsia.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0845 389 3889.
Amanda Beesley on 0845 389 0755 / 07919 381485
Alessia Vinerba on 0845 389 0741