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NZ aviation security world class

9 February 2005

NZ aviation security world class

Your report of last Sunday evening (February 6) suggesting New Zealand is a “ripe target for a terrorist attack” was misleading and inappropriate, given that you had made no attempt to discuss the issue with the Aviation Security Service (Avsec). The Herald on Sunday – from which your report originated – had also not contacted us to obtain verification of the facts or an alternative opinion.

The report quotes a self-taught “expert in global terrorism”, Paul Thomson. Avsec notes that Mr Thomson refers to airport security which relates to buildings and infrastructure. In contrast, aviation security covers the systems in place to manage and mitigate the risks to the security of aviation.

For your information, New Zealand’s aviation security measures are set according to the level of threat, and that level is reviewed regularly. Each country makes its assessment based on its own unique circumstances and New Zealand is no different. New Zealand exceeds aviation security requirements mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The Unites States has a high threat level for obvious reasons, and in Australia, the level is higher than New Zealand’s because of its proximity to Indonesia, where extremist elements have specifically targeted Australian citizens. Australia also has a higher profile on the international stage.

It does not mean New Zealand’s measures are lax – far from it. New Zealand has extremely efficient aviation security in place. The comprehensive risk management and quality approach applied by Avsec attracts considerable overseas attention. Several countries model their own security measures on the New Zealand example. Feedback about Avsec’s performance from key stakeholders, including airlines, is also very positive.

The confidence of the international community in Avsec is borne out by Avsec’s ability to arrange liability insurance of US$750 million in a very difficult insurance market. As part of its ongoing upgrade of procedures, Avsec and the airline industry are working on the introduction of hold baggage screening for all outgoing international flights from October 1, 2005.

This project will ensure that Avsec continues to deliver industry best practice. Self-proclaimed experts – and the media – should check with the relevant organisations before making sensationalised comments such as those in your report. Information about Avsec is always available to the media upon request. We ask that you exercise that option in any future reports relevant to New Zealand’s aviation security industry. In terms of airport security infrastructure, New Zealand’s international airports work to agreed international standards.

ENDS

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