MIAMI — With the recent release of some details of a classified report regarding shortcomings in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) screening process, many have expressed concern about the security of the industry. Speaking at the IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Miami, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spoke about that report, hoping to defuse some concerns on both a local and global scale. And while he did not address the specific findings being reported, he did get into what DHS’s response has been and will be.
Mayorkas detailed an eight-point response plan. Some of the steps, including retraining many front-line employees and revising hardware testing policies, cannot be completed immediately, although they are in progress. Other steps, such as briefing the Federal Security Directors at every airport in the United States “with a particular focus on procedural and performance vulnerabilities identified by the Inspector General” on the classified report’s details, have been pursued at a near-record pace. He indicated that the briefing was completed last week.
Ultimately the statement focused on seeking the cooperation of the aviation community with the DHS and TSA processes and supporting front-line employees. Mayorkas explicitly expressed “confidence in our TSA workforce” and reminded IATA attendees that there are many levels of screening that are handled separately from what passengers see when they travel.
The global community looks to the DHS and TSA for guidance in many aspects of the aviation security model. Lapses in the system, particularly those which are this public and this dramatic, can cause many challenges for the industry on a massive scale.
IATA CEO Tony Tyler called this out pointedly, “Our customers still see security as a major pain point in the travel experience. Hopefully, this effort by DHS can both ease those passenger pains and also assure the international community that the security of the aviation industry remains robust and reliable.”