New German airports chief calls for passenger 'profiling'
The incoming president of the German Airports Association called in an interview Tuesday for Israeli-style profiling of passengers to expedite security lines and improve safety.
Christoph Blume, who is also the head of Germany's third busiest airport in Duesseldorf, told the daily Rheinische Post that frequent travellers with a long and clean track record could get express treatment at security checks.
"Israel for example uses a risk-based approach," said Blume, who will become president of the ADV airports association in January.
"Passengers are put into various risk groups. Safe customers on whom there is sufficient data and who regularly fly the same route are not checked as much as passengers on whom there is no or little data.
"Germany should consider Israeli 'profiling'."
Israel's strict airport screening, applied for decades at the country's Ben Gurion international airport and by Israeli airlines abroad, is based in part on the ethnicity of passengers.
It entails assessing the risk posed by a passenger according to his nationality, background and behaviour. Israeli security agents consider Arab or Muslim travellers as potentially high threats.
Blume, who did not speak of profiling based on factors such as race or religion, said targeted checks would be in the interest of all travellers.
But German police union GdP said such measures opened the door to discrimination without necessarily being more effective.
"To assume that potential attackers only come from certain countries and have certain features could prove to be a risky mistake when someone who does not fit the profile launches an attack," union president Bernhard Witthaut said in a statement.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently proposed a similar strategy under which passengers would be screened to a degree linked to the amount known about them.
The idea is to be debated among IATA members next year.
In November, British Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans to introduce tougher vetting for passengers booking from potentially hostile countries or who pay for their tickets in cash.
© 2010 AFP