IATA says airports must have stronger contingency plan

Airport authorities and the UK government have been condemned by airlines for the disruption caused to airports on 10 August by a suspected terrorist threat.

UK airports had no plans for coping with the raised national security threat level and the government has taken no responsibility for the disruption, even though "the uncovered terrorist plot constituted a threat against states, not against airlines", says the Association of European Airlines (AEA).

The International Air Transport Association's chief executive Giovanni Bisignani says: "In the case of BAA [owner of the three largest London airports] the airports must have a stronger contingency plan and be more proactive in handling the emergency."

police -Matt-Dunham
Hundreds of UK flights were cancelled following the 10 August alert

Bisignani says BAA should have been able to call on military and police resources to help in passenger processing. BAA responded that it would have had to bring in 50% more staff, and that this could not be done at short notice. British Airways' chief executive Willie Walsh described the scenes at London Heathrow airport as like "a bad dream at Disneyland". Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has threatened to sue the government for compensation for the 270 flights he had to cancel because of "farcical Keystone Cops security measures that don't add anything except to block up airports".

AEA general secretary Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus says: "In higher-risk situations such as that experienced in the UK, all operators, including airports, should be able to adapt their measures without causing extreme disruption to their customers.

"Since the European Commission recently recognised that security could, and should, be publicly financed, the reimbursement of losses incurred by the industry in the last few days will have to be addressed at European Union level," says Schulte-Strathaus.

Source: Flight International