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Airlines body warns against haste in bombs response

Says must have all facts to make long-term changes.

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November 2, 2010 2:25 by



International airlines body IATA warned against rash moves to improve aviation security after two U.S.-bound bombs sent were intercepted in air cargo.

“We have seen many cases where (solutions) have unintended consequences,” Giovanni Bisignani, Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said at an aviation security conference on Tuesday.

Two packages containing bombs — both sent from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago — were intercepted in Britain and Dubai on Friday.

One of the packages was found on a United Parcel Service cargo plane at East Midlands Airport in Britain. The other was discovered in a computer printer cartridge in a parcel at a FedEx facility in Dubai.

“Industry is cooperating with government directives on targeted actions for Yemen-origin cargo,” Bisignani said. “If there are any longer-term adjustments required, we must do so with all the facts in hand with measures targeted to meet specific risks.”

IMAGING TECHNOLOGY

Governments around the world needed to cooperate with airlines to improve aviation security, he said. “Over the weeks and months, as governments learn more about the threat, we must continue to work together to implement appropriate solutions.”

The bomb plot could speed up calls for wider use of sophisticated imaging technology that detect explosives, which is not standard, but freight firms are reluctant to bear the full cost.

Also, there has been concern that heightened security will slow trade flows, making it harder to get spare parts for factory machines or deliver perishable goods in time.

Air cargo — transported in freight planes and in the cargo hold of passenger aircraft — accounts for just over a third of global trade by value.

“Security cannot bring business to a standstill,” said John Pistole, who was made head of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration earlier this year, at the conference.

“We must strike that balance (between security and business). The U.S. government understands this well. Protecting freedom of movement is at the heart of our mission.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Dan Lalor)



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