Iata warns against 'knee-jerk' response to air plot

Image caption, Air cargo security needs a co-ordinated response, says Iata boss

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has urged governments not to overreact to last week's bomb plot using cargo aircraft.

Iata's boss, Giovanni Bisignani, told its aviation security conference in Germany: "Effective solutions are not developed unilaterally or in haste."

Another Iata spokesman cautioned against "knee-jerk reactions" to the plot which could harm the air industry.

Iata said improvements were needed, but that any response had to be measured.

Just over a third of the total value of goods traded internationally travel by air, so it is key to global trade.

IATA is keen that security regulators around the world work together.

"We are much more secure than we were in 2000, but there is room for improvement," Mr Bisignani said.

"Over the next days, weeks and months, as governments learn more about the threat, we must continue to work together to implement appropriate solutions."

Security principles

Iata is calling for a targeted response to the bombs, which were found in cargo and addressed to synagogues in the US.

It has put together four principles which it believes should guide how air cargo security programmes are put together.

These include a "supply chain approach" in which government and industry co-operate on technology, processes and risk assessment.

Technology is no replacement for intelligence, according to Mr Bisignani, but more efforts need to be made to speed up the development of technology to scan large pallets and items.

Airlines carried 26 million tonnes of freight in 2009 and that is set to increase rapidly over the next few years. New figures from Boeing predict air cargo could grow by 6% a year over the next two decades.

Reducing paperwork

Iata is also calling for more countries to introduce electronic documentation of freight, known as e-freight.

Thirty-one countries have already adopted the e-freight system, which helps to make freight handling easier and the security process more efficient.

But many countries are still using a heavily bureaucratic, paper-based system, Iata says.

The goal is for 44 countries to use e-freight by the end of the year.

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