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Stepping up to the changing demands in airport security

Securitas : 02 February, 2015  (Special Report)
Securitas specialist, Mark Allen, explains how the company is stepping up to the increasing needs of aviation security needs
Stepping up to the changing demands in airport security

Changing face of airport securityAviation security changed forever in the wake of 9/11 and, to this day, airports and their passengers are still coping with the rules and regulations that subsequently, and inevitably, came to pass.  So how can companies meet the changes and challenges that aviation security now brings?

Securitas Transport Aviation Services (STAS) protects more than 200 airports in 26 countries across the globe. Securitas’ aviation services offer worldwide knowledge delivered with local expertise.  Mark Allen, Contract Manager at STAS gives an insight.  

World-wide air traffic is on the increase every year, driven ever higher by greater volumes of airfreight and airmail, not to mention the attractive offers of low-cost carriers.

However, no matter how great the increase, safety is, and will always be, the most important aspect of aviation, and airport operators, airlines and authorities must ensure maximum security for their staff and passengers.   

For an airport looking for a security provider, cost is a very important factor.  For any airport, whether big or small, the costs of delivering compliant security are never ending. For example, a small regional airport could spend millions of pounds per annum in security staffing alone.  And when you consider the revenue airports make when a customer books a holiday is minimal, those costs need to be recovered from elsewhere.

Security equipment is an additional cost to factor in. Due to the increase in security alerts and the heightened threat of terrorism, by 2018, all baggage handling systems across Europe will have to comply with the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) Standard 3 Screening regulations. Not only will the new technology provide a safer standard of screening to meet these increased security threats, but it will also streamline the process for passengers, cutting down the time hold baggage will spend going through security.

However, some airports may have to invest over £20million to meet the new regulations.  The new equipment may well do away with the four-five stage process of previous systems, but it is twice the size.  This means many airports will have to completely re-design and restructure their security areas to accommodate it. And even though the aviation industry contributed £8billion pounds in tax revenue to the UK economy in 2014, there is no Government funding available to help with these costs.

How are we helping?

At Securitas, we are constantly striving to drive innovation and new ideas to all our aviation customers.  As a global leader in aviation security, we have strong relationships with technology suppliers and manufacturers as well as the Civil Aviation Authority.  This is helping us to drive costs down for our customers and lead the way as an efficient and cost effective-supplier in the aviation market.

As for our people, they have the common goal of ensuring passengers receive the highest standard of care at all times.  The perception of an aviation security agent is something Securitas has recognised and addressed globally and the era of airport security being very military and non customer-friendly has long since been left behind.  Securitas officers are put through structured recruitment processes and are trained to be customer service focused at all times.  On-going reviews of each individual officer’s performance and regular training are also conducted at each site.  

Finally keeping bang up to date with compliance and legislation is the key to ensuring the airport and its users are kept safe.  Securitas regularly shares best practice at meetings with our worldwide managers and we routinely join together to discuss how we can improve processes and customer service globally.  

Liverpool John Lennon Airport

An example of how these services are delivered is Liverpool John Lennon Airport where Securitas was awarded a contract to provide security services in 2010.

Securitas Transport Aviation Services (STAS) now delivers a full provision solution to the airport through an experienced, knowledgeable team consisting of a station manager, duty managers, team leaders and agents.

The team knows exactly what is needed to get passengers safely from one place to another. The security officers are highly trained in passenger and baggage screening and ensure that all passengers and aircraft that depart from Liverpool arrive safely and securely at their destination.

The range of duties carried out begins as soon as passengers enter the airport and include passenger and baggage screening, cargo screening, travel documentation control, aircraft search and guarding and access control.

As with many airports, compliance was high on the agenda. When Securitas took over the contract, three development objectives were identified; compliance, processes and customer service.

Each objective is carefully measured through a customer survey carried out by the airport. The feedback received has detailed scores averaging at 97% for over a year.

A best in class approach ensures exceptional standards of training. STAS delivers an extensive catalogue of approved Department of Transport courses to staff at the airport, covering a range of aviation security functions. As the partnership between Securitas and Liverpool John Lennon Airport has grown, Securitas has introduced ‘on the job trainers’ to the airport. These trainers work with the teams, observing and identifying any training requirements needed.  Courses have also been delivered by the Institute of Customer Service - a provider globally recognised as market leaders in this field.  This ensures Securitas is delivering the highest standard of service to the aviation sector.

Stephen Taylor, Head of Security and Terminal Operations has seen the benefits.  “We have never been better in terms of compliancy with regulations and other departments. Having the trainers has proved invaluable.  We are consistently exceeding targets and I believe this is down to the training programme and management of staff.” he said.

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