ACI-NA Meets with DHS Secretary Napolitano

On Thursday morning, Greg Principato, ACI-NA President, Angela Gittens, ACI World Director General and Christopher Bidwell, ACI-NA Vice President, Security and Facilitation, met with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano to discuss global airport security and facilitation matters. In addition to the Secretary, David Nicholson, the Acting Chief of Staff for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) participated in the meeting.

Principato opened the dialogue by stressing the importance of DHS and TSA consulting with ACI-NA on initiatives, since security happens at airports. The Secretary mentioned that industry plays a key role by keeping DHS informed and proposing potential modifications to initiatives that are having an operational impact. In addition, the Secretary mentioned that she wants to work with ACI, IATA, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other industry stakeholders, to evaluate strategies to respond to future threat scenarios.

Gittens applauded the Secretary's effort in working with other countries to develop uniform security standards and offered the assistance of ACI as the officially accredited airport representative to the ICAO. In discussing the challenges for airports in responding to the European Commission’s planned relaxation of the restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols in 2013, Gittens encouraged US involvement, to ensure technology is effective and has been thoroughly tested in the operational environment.

Secretary Napolitano indicated that threats in the air environment are real and stated that airports continue to provide an essential layer of security by ensuring background checks on employees are current.

Principato voiced support for TSA Administrator Pistole’s Risk-Based Security initiatives and stated that ACI-NA looks forward to working with the agency to develop and roll out the Known Traveler program.

Bidwell expressed appreciation for the Secretary’s initiative, after the attempted toner cartridge bomb plot, to constitute government/industry working groups charged with providing DHS recommendations to enhance cargo security, and suggested the approach would be a good model to jointly evaluate other aviation security initiatives.

Principato also discussed the operational impact on TSA, airports and airlines associated with the requirement for re-screening checked baggage arriving in the US on flights from Canada, prior to it being loaded on connecting flights.

In response to Principato having mentioned that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staffing at some airports is an ongoing challenge, the Secretary encouraged ACI-NA and airports to actively advertise the benefits of participation in Global Entry, CBP’s international trusted traveler program.

The Secretary committed to continue the open dialogue with airports through future calls and meetings with key DHS and TSA representatives.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Christopher R. Bidwell, Vice President, Security and Facilitation, at (202) 861-8081 or Lydia T. Kellogg, Director, Public Safety and Security, at (202) 861-8082.ACI-NA Meets with DHS Secretary Napolitano