Tuesday, January 12, 2010

AFRAA calls for tighter security at African airports

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has called for the tightening of security in African airports.

It has also urged the global aviation watchdog, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), to step in to boost security at African airports.

â?The failed Christmas terrorist attack, attempted on by a passenger, whose tra vel originated from Africa, is a serious waking call for African Civil Aviation a nd Airport Authorities,â? AFRAA Secretary-General Christian Folly-Kossi, said in a statement sent to PANA on Saturday.

The United States has called for an overhaul of airport security in the wake of the Christmas Day botched terrorist attack, carried out by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national who is reported to have been radicalised in Yemen after his recruitment into a global terror network.

Folly-Kossi said African airports had some of the worst security arrangements, which had permited the existence of illegal activity, mostly at the exit gates, further compromising aviation security.

â?Security is deadly loose in many African Airports. So far very few of them have qualified as 'FAA category 1' airports,â? Folly-Kossi said in a statement sent from Stockholm, Sweden, where is attending a business meeting.

Most African airports have not achieved the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category One status, which means that their security has not met the ICAO status. The US uses this to gauge which airports its airlines can operate from.

The AFRAA outgoing Secretary-General said aviation security needs to be enhanced across the continent.

He said the failure by most African airports to meet the FAA Category One status was evidence of the need to heighten security in Africa.

â?This stands as a blunt evidence of the dire need for African Civil Aviation and airports to beef up their security,â? he noted.

The failure by most African airports to achieve the Category One Status implies that the countries lack laws or regulations necessary to support the certification and oversight of air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards.

It also implies that the countryâ?s civil aviation authority lacks the technica l expertise, resources, and organization to license or oversee air carrier opera t ions, according to FAA.

Most African countries and civil aviation authorities do not have adequately trained and qualified technical personnel and do not provide adequate inspector guidance to ensure enforcement of, and compliance with, minimum international standards.

In some circumstances, the civil aviation authority has insufficient documentati on and records of certification and inadequate continuing oversight and surveillance of air carrier operations.

Folly-Kossi said international community and the donors must come up with measures to assist African states to tackle the airport lapses.

â?AFRAA recommends that ICAO imposes more stringent security standards on African airports and forces them to heighten their security even if their vocation is not to be exit gates for flights destined to the United States of America,â? he said.

â?In this new era of intensive terrorism threats across the globe, Africa ought to play safe and avoid providing easy in-gates for criminal activities in the global aviation.â?

He reiterated that the international community and development donors should get more sensitized and assist for the earliest achievement of this objective.

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