BA chief attacks US over airport security checks: report

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The chairman of British Airways has strongly criticised some airport security checks and said Britain should not "kowtow" to US demands, in comments published in a newspaper Wednesday.

Martin Broughton attacked some measures as "completely redundant" and said airlines flying into the United States should not have to follow rules that were not imposed on US domestic routes.

He said checks that force people to take their shoes off and have their laptops examined separately in security lines should be dropped, in comments cited in the Financial Times.

There was no need to "kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done" to ramp up security on US-bound flights, said the chairman.

"America does not do internally a lot of the things they demanded that we do," he is cited 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'."

His remarks, at the annual conference of the UK Airport Operators Association in London, follow a steady increase in recent years in airport security measures in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The US required extra passenger checks at international airport gates after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a US airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day last year.

Broughton said no one wanted weak security, but added: "We all know there's quite a number of elements in the security programme which are completely redundant and they should be sorted out."

These included the requirement to remove footwear and different approaches to checking laptops and other equipment, he said.

"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," said the chairman.

In response to Broughton's remarks, the US Transportation Security Administration told the FT that it worked closely with international partners to ensure the best possible security.

"We constantly review and evolve our security measures based on the latest intelligence," it said.

© 2010 AFP

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