The craven attack on Atatürk Airport on Tuesday night has shaken the world and raised fresh questions on how best to address terrorists persistent victimisation of the air travelling public and aviation staff.
Istanbul-Atatürk is the third busiest airport in Europe and the bigger of the two airports serving the city of Istanbul. The airport served 61.8 million passengers in 2015. Its size and importance made it an attractive target to those who crave chaos and seek mass attention by victimising those who merely want to satisfy their natural desire to see new places, expand their understanding of the world, and build bridges between cultures.
Both IATA and ACI EUROPE issued statements today, commending Atatürk Airport for its quick recovery of service.
“Once again, innocent travellers have been attacked in a cowardly and murderous act. Our thoughts are with the victims, and their families and friends,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“Air transport brings people together and facilitates both social and economic development. Istanbul has a particularly significant and historical role in connecting East and West. Last night’s attack was a broad attack on our shared humanity. But terrorism will never succeed in reversing the interconnectedness of the world. The desire of the human spirit to explore and trade will always triumph over suspicion and fear. That Istanbul airport is operating today is a testament to the resilience and determination of the Turkish people and the aviation industry. We stand together in solidarity-confident that we will emerge stronger and more united in our resolve to keep connecting our world,” Tyler continued.
“The safety and security of passengers are our top priorities. This tragedy in Istanbul and the one in Brussels earlier this year show that there is a growing challenge for governments to keep people safe in the ‘landside’ parts of the airport. Moving people ‘airside’ more quickly can help to mitigate risk. The industry has a number of initiatives in place to achieve that aim and we are working with governments and airports to implement them,” Tyler said.
ACI EUROPE Statement
ACI EUROPE expressed solidarity with Istanbul-Atatürk airport, saying, “Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friend and with airport colleagues.”
The airport association renewed its call for greater intelligence sharing between Europe’s agencies.
In response to terror attacks in Brussels on 22 March, both at the airport and in the city, European authorities have reviewed the security of many airports and implemented measures to better secure landside public areas.
These include reinforced surveillance and increased detection capabilities, but the attack on Atatürk airport—and repeated terror attacks in other public areas in Europe and Turkey—illustrate that there is an ongoing threat to public areas.
But ACI EUROPE has repeatedly warned that adding new layers of security checks landslide may only push the risk further out, but still leave those crowds waiting to be processed vulnerable.
“Last night’s attack took place at an airport that has systematic landside security checks on all passengers & visitors as they enter the terminal buildings,” ACI EUROPE states. “Many of the fatalities occurred while people were queueing to access the terminal building—an unfortunate reminder that this kind of additional security measures tends to move the target rather than actually securing it. We must face the reality that when dealing with a terror threat based on suicide bombing, no security measures can ensure 100% protection.”
Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI EUROPE said:
“Security is paramount and we the airport industry remain firmly committed to continuously improving the quality and efficiency of security measures. Airports are already among the most regulated spaces in this regard. What happened yesterday in Istanbul shows us that the real challenge now is to stop terrorists before they ever reach an airport or any other public space—I cannot reiterate enough, better intelligence and more effective information exchange & cooperation between the competent public authorities needs to become the highest priority.”