On September 12 ACI Europe met with Jan Jambon, Vice-Prime Minister of Belgium and Security & Interior Minister, to discuss security measures at Belgian airports nearly six months after the Brussels terror attacks of March 22. Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI Europe and David Ryder, Head of Aviation Security ACI Europe participated in the meeting, accompanied by Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport.
ACI Europe says it has been expressing concerns as to the effectiveness and adequacy of the extra security measures applied for landside spaces (public spaces not restricted to passengers holding a valid boarding pass) at Belgian airports since last April. In particular, it considered that the screening of all passengers on entry to airport terminals was merely moving the target rather than securing it. ACI Europe says its assessment was proven right on June 28 with the terrorist attack that took place at Istanbul-Atatürk airport. The existence of entry screening at Istanbul-Atatürk similar to the ones deployed at Belgian airports did not prevent this attack and there is no evidence that it would limit the number of casualties.
ACI Europe says that over the past months, the Belgian Government has reconsidered the level and scope of the security checks at the entrance of airport terminals – with these checks no longer being systematic. Crucially, along with all other European States, Belgium has also looked at deploying alternative measures, which are both more efficient from a security standpoint and less intrusive. However, entry screening still remains in place at this time, with Belgium being the only EU country applying such measures.
ACI Europe said the meeting with Vice-Prime Minister Jambon allowed for a fruitful exchange and an in-depth review of the current security situation at Belgian airports. Vice-Prime Minister Jambon confirmed the objective of replacing current entry checks with alternative and more effective security measures. Supporting this objective, ACI Europe provided the Vice-Prime Minister with advice on a layered approach to airport landside security at Belgian airports – relying on a mix of intelligence, data, communications and alternative detection capabilities.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe commented: “There is little doubt that the remaining screening measures at the entrance of airport terminals in Belgium should be removed – they are not adding anything in terms of security. I am reassured that the Belgian government is already moving in that direction and ACI Europe stands ready to assist where needed on the deployment of alternative and more efficient measures. This will allow for better use of existing resources and – last but not least – will actually go a long way in restoring a more positive image of Belgium as an efficient and safe destination.”