Tags: Security | Key | Airline | Industry | Recovery

Security Key to Airline Industry Recovery

Thursday, 10 January 2002 12:00 AM

Other sectors of the airline industry must do "their part" -- from government to airports and equipment suppliers -- Koh said.

Airplanes are safer than ever, but the general public is wary of external factors -- hijackers and other potential terrorist attacks -- since Sept. 11.

"The aviation industry needs to make security its No. 1 priority, just as it made the issue of aircraft safety its main focus several years ago," Koh told the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

Koh suggested that the way forward meant more than just security on board an aircraft. "The focus must surely be on improving security before that point. Otherwise it is like debating what to do after a burglar gets in the home, instead of debating how to prevent him from getting inside in the first place," Koh said.

He said security starts with improved sharing of international criminal intelligence. But he said there also is potential for increased use of biometrics for everyone who comes into contact with an aircraft, things like face or eye scanners to quickly identify passengers.

Several U.S. airports use or are planning to install video cameras that can scan a face and compare it to a database of suspects, and then alert security officers.

Koh said four months after the attack there were hints the situation might be improving for airlines, but he stressed it was still too early to tell since recent development could reflect seasonal effects.

"There is still no strong sign that people are going back to flying as they did in the past. Their confidence in the ability of airlines to deliver them safely to their destinations has yet to be restored," Koh noted.

"I have no doubt the industry will recover from this hard knock," he said, pointing out that 40 percent of the world's manufactured exports were transported by air.

"Over time, travelers will return to the air in greater numbers -- if and when airlines show they are acting to improve security and safety," he said.

He expressed surprise that more airlines hadn't shut down after the events of last year, when the terrorist attacks only compounded an already difficult situation due to a market decline in traffic flows and airfreight demand, as well as a doubling in fuel prices.

"After Sept. 11, a lot more airlines should have gone out of business," he said. He said governments were prompt to rescue airlines because national airlines are a bit like national flags.

But he did anticipate further consolidation and liberalization in the industry over time. Koh, who headed Singapore Telecommunications for many years, said that 20 years ago no one would have believed national telecom markets would be liberalized the way they are now.

For its part, he said Singapore Airlines will continue to seek out and make future acquisitions "if they make sense and further our goals." He acknowledged that lessons could be drawn from the company's failed investment in Air New Zealand.

"In retrospect, we could have developed a greater understanding among the main shareholders of the company. The shareholding structure of Air New Zealand was not conducive to taking quick decisions, and in the end we all agree it would be best if the New Zealand government took it back over," Koh said.

Singapore Airlines had a 24.9 percent stake in Air New Zealand, now diluted to 4.3 percent, while Brierley Investments' 30 percent stake was reduced to 5.2 percent.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

© 2020 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

1Like our page
Other sectors of the airline industry must do their part -- from government to airports and equipment suppliers -- Koh said. Airplanes are safer than ever, but the general public is wary of external factors -- hijackers and other potential terrorist attacks -- since...
Thursday, 10 January 2002 12:00 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved