BA chairman attacks US security measures

British Airways chairman Martin Broughton has accused Britain of “kowtowing” to the United States in implementing “completely redundant” airport security checks.

Practices such as asking passengers to remove their shoes should be “abandoned” he suggested, while also questioning why laptop computers are scanned separately.

Mr Broughton also noted American airports did not implement some checks on their own internal flights.

“America does not do internally a lot of the things they demand that we do. We shouldn’t stand for that. We should say ‘we’ll only do things which we consider to be essential and that you Americans also consider essential,” Mr Broughton added in the Financial Times.

British Airways has not disputed the comments.

Broughton branded some practices “redundant”

Richard Reid

The requirement for passengers to remove footwear was introduced after British “shoe bomber” Richard Reid hid explosives in his trainers on a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001.

However, it is the lack of consistency which caused Mr Broughton the most concern.

“Take the iPad,” he continued “they still haven’t decided if it is a laptop or it isn’t a laptop. So some airports think you should take it out and some think you shouldn’t.”

Rules on airport checks and items that can be carried in hand-luggage have got progressively tougher ever since the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Passengers are presently restricted to containers holding less than 100ml of fluid for example.

Government Position

In a statement the department for transport said there were no plans to change rules on checking laptops and shoes.

However, transport minister Philip Hammond told the conference earlier this week he wanted a new regulatory system.

Mr Hammond explained he wanted the government to concentrate on securing security the outcomes that needed to be achieved, while operators devised security processes needed to deliver them in line with EU requirements.

“Security is and will remain a continuing challenge to the industry and the delivery of effective aviation security must be at the heart of the aviation policy debate,” he said.

Mr Hammond also ruled out new runways at airports in the south of England.