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Cost of extra airport security dominates European regional airline congress in Barcelona

Security and who pays was not surprisingly the hot topic at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) general assembly in Barcelona this week.

ERA president and Aegean Airlines chief operating officer Antonis Simigdalas said there was “an endless discussion during the presidents' meeting” on security costs and a top ERA priority is to push for state funding of the extra layers of security which were added first after the September 2001 terrorist attacks and the August 2006 terror scare in the UK.

“There is a big percentage of agreement the latest security measures have serious cost implications for all of us,” he says.

In the keynote address, Iberia chairman Fernando Conte joined ERA in advocating for public funding of security. “We’re not talking about airline or airport security. We’re talking about public security. And our customers are paying their taxes and our European customers are paying their taxes in Europe. We must convey this message.”

He says European carriers need to join together and urge European government to harmonise their policies on security costs. He complained the airline industry is often overlooked by European politicians and airlines have no influence despite its importance to European economies. “We are easy prey,” he says.

Conte says the UK terror scare from August resulted in “a major distortion to our operation” and the extra security has since been a big inconvenience to Iberia’s best customers, business class connecting passengers. Conte says many airports do not enough equipment to handle the current security requirements and the passenger really needs a “one stop security in Europe”.

“We need to take into consideration higher security measures are here to stay. We need to make sure infrastructure and resources are (put in place at airports) for that scenario.”

Aer Arann executive chairman Padraig O'Ceidigh said the additional security over the last several weeks has “cost implications for all ERA members and all airlines and airports”. He adds “it is our companies that carry the can”.

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