June 29, 2017
As anticipated, on Wednesday the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued new requirements for 180 domestic and foreign airlines operating from 280 Last Point of Departure airports inbound to the U.S. Fortunately, airport operators and airlines outside of the U.S. were spared a full ban on electronics, at least for the near future. This said, the new measures are sure to wreak havoc on airport operations and cause delays in U.S.-bound traffic.
I wrote an article a few weeks ago outlining considerations for regulators as they contemplated imposing a full ban. This follow-on article focuses on considerations for airport operators as they deal with the operational realities associated with the new requirements issued this week.
- Tailor the Approach
TSA cannot afford to draft individualized requirements by location. Therefore, the agency levies security requirements in a fairly cookie cutter manner, with room for operators to request exceptions and/or amendments for how the measures are to be applied for a single location. TSA wants to see that regulated parties understand the intent of the new measures and that they are implementing them as appropriate per location. It’s up to the airlines to tailor the approach, and actively propose to TSA workable solutions that incorporate local operational realities. Airlines should not be shy.
- Collect Good Data
Requirements are dialed up or down based on risk, but operational and financial impacts are also factored into the equation. As new measures are being implemented, U.S. airlines and impacted airports have an important role to play. These stakeholders must collect reliable data that calculates the operational impact and overall cost of the new requirements to their operations. As important, this data should reflect the impact of the enhanced measures on passenger travel to the U.S. Only by clearly articulating the total cost of the measures to U.S. airlines and the U.S. economy can global airlines and airports outside of the U.S. effectively illustrate the trade-offs of the ban so that TSA might make an informed longer-term decision as to whether it’s worth it. This assumes, of course, that U.S. policymakers are not prepared to protect an aircraft with 300 passengers at any cost.
- Weigh & Trial Alternatives
Segmenting out US-bound passengers at centralized checkpoints will be incredibly challenging for airport operators for locations where U.S.-bound passengers do not operate out of a separate terminal. Airlines and/or airports will need to consider implementing enhanced measures at the gate in the coming months. At the same time, they will need to understand other alternatives and should consider trialing CT technology at checkpoint. Collecting operational data on both a CT trial and the gate screening process simultaneously will enable a robust comparison between the cost associated with deploying CT and/or other measures across a centralized checkpoint and a continued and cumbersome gate screening approach for U.S.-bound flights.
- Organize & Be Vocal
Airports and airlines must come together to drive the development of solutions that will allow personal electronics to remain in the bag for screening. Operators cannot accept the new measures as a sustainable long-term approach, and must vocalize this to U.S. regulators. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI) have an important role to play in this respect and must create credible alternative approaches and near to medium-term operational requirements for next-generation detection technologies that could potentially make all of this go away.
My next and final blog entry on this topic will focus on considerations for technology manufacturers in the midst of the new requirements.