The US government's plans to give its airlines more cash to cope with increased security measures have drawn flak from the European Union, but Giovanni Bisignani, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is supporting the US Congress action.

"We are not prepared to take the responsibility of paying for what governments should pay for themselves," Bisignani says. "Security is the responsibility of the state."

As well as the direct costs, Bisignani complains, airlines are losing $2.5 billion a year in "hassle costs" because intrusive security procedures discourage passengers on short-haul flights.

But he admits US subsidies are not entirely welcome. The USA is unwilling to support the International Civil Aviation Organisation's proposed Equitime insurance plan because it is already giving subsidised war-risk coverage to US airlines. Although Bisignani describes the 40% support achieved so far as "an incredible positive result", the plan needs 51% backing if it is to get under way next February.

"European governments must continue to support their airlines for the next few months," he says. The European Commission recently ordered EU member states to remove emergency insurance cover by the end of October. Several countries - including Finland, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK - are ready to cut their airlines loose (Flight International, 1-7 October), but Germany plans to appeal against the decision.

The move has worried IATA, as insurance premiums have soared to $6 billion this year from $1 billion.

Source: Flight International