BA pans US security rules

2010-10-27 14:04

London – The United States is making excessive demands for airline passenger screening, including measures it doesn't require on US domestic flights, the chairperson of British Airways says.

Martin Broughton complained specifically about separate checks of laptop computers and forcing people to take off their shoes for checking, saying that such measures are "completely redundant", the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

Broughton aired his complaint on Tuesday at the annual conference of the UK Airport Operators Association. British Airways said the report was accurate, but it does not have a text of the chairperson's remarks.

"America does not do internally a lot of the things they demand that we do," Broughton was quoted as saying.

"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'."

Broughton added that British authorities should not "kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done".

Completely redundant

"We all know there's quite a number of elements in the security programme which are completely redundant and they should be sort out," he was quoted as saying.

"Take the iPad: 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," Broughton said.

Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA PLC, which owns Heathrow airport, says security is subject to regulations set by US, European and domestic authorities.

"There are some aspects which have been frustrating to everyone, but equally everyone understands we have to keep the passenger safe," Matthews said in an interview with BBC radio.

Alan West, the security minister in the previous British government, supported Broughton's complaint and said a multinational agreement could make the checks "much less onerous".

"We have had requirement on requirement laid on top of each other, and certainly I need to be convinced about all these various layers," West told the BBC.

"I do think it does need to be rationalised because I think we have gone too far. There are too many layers, too much inconsistency," West said.