Alexandre de Juniac, IATA Director General and CEO, calls on governments everywhere to do a better job of sharing information and working with the industry

The most common sense things often seem to be the most difficult to get right. 

In an industry with a complex value chain, getting things done needs coordination. And effective coordination can only happen through dialogue. 

Every flight that takes off is the result of an enormous coordination of efforts built over years of experience.

Changing a step in the process cannot be done discretely. It will impact the well-oiled chain of processes and procedures

Ground handlers, caterers, fuel suppliers, customs authorities, immigration officials, passenger agents, baggage handlers, check-in staff, security screeners, and air traffic control authorities are only the start of a long list of people and functions that work together for each of the 100,000 flights that will depart and land safely today.

Changing a step in the process cannot be done discretely. It will impact the well-oiled chain of processes and procedures, possibly even bringing it to a halt.

Failure to understand this rather common sense fact is at the root of our disappointment with the recent bans on the carry-on of large electronic devices on direct flights to the US and UK from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa. 

The move caught travelers, airlines, airports and even security organizations by surprise. There was confusion about the detailed requirements. The logical questions that arise from the ban put public confidence at risk. And the countermeasures implemented by Australia, based on the same threat information, show us that there are alternative methods to keeping the system secure.

Airlines and governments share a common goal. We all want to keep flying safe and secure. So it makes sense to work together. With their intelligence resources, governments understand the threat. And airline operational experience can help mitigate the threat in the most efficient way possible. But that requires coordination and advance notice.

The best regulations are made when all the information is on the table

There will be further threats to aviation. And we call on governments everywhere to do a better job of sharing information and working with the industry. We also ask governments to share information with each other. Security intelligence can save lives, but only if it gets to those who need it. With that in mind, governments should feel compelled to approve amendments to the Chicago Convention requiring the exchange of security information.

The need for dialogue is not confined to security. It is a well-established principle in operational safety management. And it needs to extend across the regulatory process. The starting point for building Smarter Regulation is an open and transparent dialogue. The best regulations are made when all the information is on the table, costs have been rigorously weighed against the benefits, the consequences have been evaluated (including those that are unintended) and the burden of compliance minimized. 

We all want the business of freedom to succeed. It supports 63 million jobs and $2.7 trillion in GDP. In doing so, aviation helps people to live better lives. There’s plenty to talk about! 

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