One-Stop Security for airports

Nicholas Ratledge by Nicholas Ratledge | Jun 3, 2020

As passenger demand for air travel rises yearly, so does the need for more efficient processes handling passengers and baggage from airport to airport.  Despite security being a necessary step in this process, there are avenues airports can use to adopt more efficient methods of facilitating passengers.  One-Stop Security (OSS) is a concept that principally aims to expedite the flow of transfer passengers and baggage to their onward destinations by eliminating the unnecessary duplication of security controls at the transfer airport. The concept has been a hot topic for discussion for many years but despite some inroads, its implementation is still sporadic globally.

Benefits from implementing a One-Stop Security initiative for airports include:

Overall security screening: OSS can further raise and align overall global aviation security standards because it requires regular exchanges of information between States and may require improvements to existing security processes to maintain mutual recognition of equivalence.

Better resource allocation: Airports would eliminate the need to screen transfer passengers and bags more than once, saving transfer passenger security costs. Airports would not only solely benefit from it; reductions in security costs ultimately would also benefit passengers in the form of reduced security charges. Not duplicating screening can strengthen security by allowing States and the industry to better allocate resources to where they are most needed, such as personnel training and procurement of better equipment.

Operational benefits: Passenger skipping transfer screening can help reduce flight connection times and minimize the possibility of missed connections concerning baggage. This benefits the passenger experience and enhances the overall efficiency and competitiveness of the air transport network.

One-Stop Security: What are airports waiting for ?

OSS is made possible by two ICAO Annex 17 – Security Standards (4.4.3 and 4.5.4) and one Recommended Practice (2.4.9), which allow States to exempt passengers, cabin and/or hold baggage from re-screening, provided a recognition of equivalence process has been put in place to ensure that the security measures carried out in one State are equivalent (in terms of security outcome) to the other State(s).

This provides a number of challenges outside of the airport operator’s control in that a State needs to physically verify that the security measures at the point of origin are equivalent (not identical necessarily) to their own. This requires efforts and resources on the part of national authorities that may be difficult to commit to.

How to implement One-Stop Security measures

It would make sense for airports to play a stronger role in the recognition of the equivalence process, even though the decision will ultimately lie with governments. How is the opportunity for one-stop security between two States born? State-to-State bilateral relations may play a strong role; however, airports can also nurture relations with foreign airports, particularly those with similar sizes and business models. This includes collaboration on security and the conduct of visits and assessments.  Adding airports in general to the recognition process would recognize that national authorities should seek airport recommendations for candidate airports/States for OSS. Information gathered could also be useful as part of the assessment of another State’s security measures.

ACI One-Stop Security Toolkit

To help guide airport operators wishing to implement OSS measures, ACI has created an online toolkit to explain how airports can engage with their authorities on One-Stop Security, along with scenarios and guidance on how OSS measures affect airports and what steps are required.

One-Stop Security
Download now

Airports are key economic drivers for local and State governments and it’s essential that airports maintain their respective competitive edge. One Stop Security measures are an effective way to efficiently move large volumes of passengers.  Airports wanting to implement these measures need to ensure they have the means necessary to do so.

Nicholas Ratledge

Nicholas Ratledge

Senior Manager, Security, Safety, and Operations at Airports Council International (ACI) World
Nicholas Ratledge joined ACI World in March 2015. As Senior Manager, Security, Safety, and Operations at Airports Council International he is responsible for providing guidance and best practice with airport security standards and recommended best practices.
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