Airline executives urge airport security overhaul

Associated Press Modified: October 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm •  Published: October 16, 2012
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Airport security needs to undergo a radical overhaul or else passengers will become further disgruntled, lines will grow and terminals will be overwhelmed, airline executives said Tuesday at a global aviation conference.

"We simply can't cope with the expected volume of passengers with the way things are today," said Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association, the airlines' trade group.

Tyler spoke at an airlines conference held in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

He predicted that by 2020, governments will be using a "checkpoint of the future" where passengers can race though without stopping, removing clothing, or taking liquids and laptops out of bags.

While a lot of work has to be done to get numerous countries and regulators on board, Tyler is optimistic that today's "one-size-fits all approach to screening" can be replaced with a system based on individual passenger risk. The industry hopes to test the concept at a handful of airports starting late 2014.

The example cited by Tyler and airline executives of what is working: the U.S. Transportation and Security Administration's relatively new PreCheck program.

Frequent fliers who voluntarily share more information with the government get to keep their shoes, belts and light jackets on at security. The program will be expanded to 35 airports by the end of the year.

"If you are willing to share a little more information, then you can have a much better experience," John S. Pistole, head of the TSA, told the conference. "We can then spend more time on those we know the least about."

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