BA chairman: US makes excessive security demands

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LONDON (AP) — The chairman of British Airways claims the United States is making excessive demands about screening airline passengers, including insisting on measures it doesn’t require on U.S. domestic flights.

BA chairman Martin Broughton complained specifically about separate checks for laptop computers and forcing people to take off their shoes, saying such measures are “completely redundant,” the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

“America does not do internally a lot of the things they demand that we do,” Broughton was quoted as saying. “We shouldn’t stand for that. We should say, ‘We’ll only do things which we consider to be essential and that you Americans also consider essential.'”

Broughton aired his complaint Tuesday at the annual conference of the U.K. Airport Operators Association. British Airways said the report was accurate, but did not have a text of his remarks.

Broughton added that British authorities should not “kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done.”

“We all know there’s quite a number of elements in the security program which are completely redundant and they should be sort out,” he was quoted as saying.

“Take the iPad: They still haven’t decided if it is a laptop or it isn’t a laptop. So some airports think you should take it out and some think you shouldn’t,” Broughton said.

Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA PLC, which owns Heathrow airport, says security is subject to regulations set by U.S., European and domestic authorities.

“There are some aspects which have been frustrating to everyone, but equally everyone understands we have to keep the passenger safe,” Matthews said in an interview with BBC radio.

Mike Carrivick, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the U.K., representing more than 90 carriers, joined the call for a security rethink.

“Every time there is a new security scare, an extra layer is added on to procedures,” Carrivick said Wednesday.

“We need to step back and have a look at the whole situation. Standards change fairly regularly and this puts pressure on airports and airlines. We need to decide what we are trying to do and how best to do it,” Carrivick said.