Air travel in APEC region requires low cost safeguards

Bangkok, Thailand, 15 May 2013
  • Issued by the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force

Diversified aviation security measures can help to ensure passenger safety and improve operational efficiency at increasingly busy airports in the Asia-Pacific without the need for significant investments.

This was the view of APEC officials and aviation security experts who examined low-cost screening checkpoint development during a two-day capacity building workshop that concluded on Wednesday in Bangkok.

“The rise in air passenger volume and airport expansion across the Pacific-Rim is increasing the need for governments to retool their approach to aviation security,” said Somchai Piputwat, Principal Advisor on Air Transport Economics at Thailand’s Ministry of Transportation.

“Identifying potential vulnerabilities at screening checkpoints and addressing them in efficient, cost effective ways is key to securing the movement of people for business and tourism that is fundamental to economic growth in our region.”

The global civil aviation industry supports 32 million jobs and USD3.5 trillion in economic activity, according to the International Air Transport Association. Carriers in the Asia-Pacific account for about 30 percent of total passenger traffic market share. It is expected that they will fly upwards of one billion people across the region by 2014.

“It only takes one security breach at an airport to leave air passengers, ground and in-flight staff, and aviation-based supply chains susceptible to a terrorist attack given the level of connectivity in the sector,” said Harry Purwanto, Chair of the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force.

“By deploying airport security checks at various times and locations, many of them at low cost or no cost, it is possible to limit the fallout of a single point of failure,” Purwanto explained. “Taken together, this can significantly reduce the chances of a potentially devastating event from occurring and ensure the flow of travel and trade.”

Enhanced passenger messaging, queue configuration, random employee screening and low cost implementation of screening technology were some of the tactics reviewed by workshop participants. A site visit of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport demonstrated their practical application as passenger numbers and facility expansion increase.

The steps APEC economies are currently taking to strengthen airport checkpoints at minimal cost were compiled and shared with participants at the conclusion of the workshop. The aim was to provide a springboard for further action.

The workshop was organized by the United States and its co-sponsor Thailand.

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