FORT WORTH, Texas—A number of news organizations have misconstrued and misreported American Airlines Chairman and CEO Don Carty’s recent remarks about aviation security following a speech in Tokyo. There appeared to be such a fascination with selected “sound bites” that the true meaning behind Mr. Carty’s comments went unreported.
First, Mr. Carty indicated that aviation has become the most secure form of travel today as a result of the work that the government, airports and airlines have done in implementing a number of very sophisticated measures to identify and screen security risks.
Some news reports suggest that Mr. Carty is now calling for less security. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, he is only calling upon the government to stop those tasks that have little real security value - such as prolonged searches of flight crews and airport employees who have already been carefully screened, and in some instances licensed, by the government. He is urging the government to focus instead on developing even more intelligent and sophisticated methods for identifying and screening genuine security threats. Mr. Carty believes that smarter and more effective security measures would serve to increase customer confidence in air travel and help airlines more quickly return to profitability.
His example of searching “Aunt Molly from Iowa” - once it has been confirmed that Aunt Molly is truly Aunt Molly - is something he considers a diversion of limited security resources at checkpoints.
Also, Mr. Carty has called for better use of behind-the-scenes intelligence to more accurately identify genuine security threats - as well as more effective screening at the initial checkpoints so passengers do not have to be subjected to redundant random searches at the gates.
In all his comments, Mr. Carty is calling upon the government to be smarter in the way it approaches security - doing fewer of those things that may cosmetically appear to translate into security but which are not as effective as other measures the government could adopt.