|Volcanic ash may seem like a minor peril in the wake of an |
expected backlast from the killing of Osama bin Laden
I have deliberately held back from comment on the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, until the position became clearer but unfortunately politics have again interfered with what should have been a fairly well structured mission for the US Navy Seals and their subsequent debrief. I do however wonder if this would have been carried out differently by our own UK SAS military experts. Conflicting accounts of what actually happened were released in a series of bumbling almost leaked presentations rather than a considered, well structured fully document supported report on what actually happened.
The subsequent burial at sea was probably carried out with all due protocol, rather than the body being dropped at a great height from a helicopter as one excited commentator suggested. But where does that leave the rest of us? Simply, a vacuum has now been created and a new generation of Jihad centred activity will emerged as potential 'leaders' jockey for postion. In reality the power exercised by bin Laden in later years was on the wane but as a style icon he still held a special place in some impressionable young peoples hearts and minds.
My understanding from senior industry sources is that airport and aviation security is still not operating as a fully joined up international process as demonstrated at a recent conference in Hanover. The reason is simple, cost and the speed of turnaround of aircraft at hubs demanded by low cost and holiday airlines. The air cargo sector has a different set of problems, as only a small percentage of air freight and cargo carried ever gets fully examined before loading. In some remote locations, no examination is ever carried out. The airport staff are at some important hubs paid little more than subsistence wages and accordingly have no real incentive to Reliance is made on the documentation and the standing of the organisations putting the original consignment together.
So where does this leave the international traveller? Essentially it is now down to the individual to maintian a high state of awareness and being prepared to report event the slightest suspicion, this will not be appreciated by the politcal lobby and a greater degree of political and racial profiling can be expected. Delays will increase substantially and expect the cost of hold carried luggage to escalate to astronomical proportions.
We all have to get used to the idea of a carry-on bag limit and for holidaymakers possibly buying beach and holiday wear at the destination and leaving it there at the end of the stay is now an economic proposition. Shunning air travel is probably an option for holidaymaking families but for the business traveller, it also has implications. Cost cutting generally has introduced alternative ways of holding meetings and exchanging documents; video conferencing and the use of email have all contributed but there are still times when face to face contact is a prime consideration.
The experienced air traveller will naturally cast an eye over his/her fellow travellers prior to departure but then has to weigh up the economic cost of reporting any suspicion and just hoping the authorities will do the job for us. No one really likes to get involved, the delay and possibly the police /court process of being a witness in a foreign country does not help. Organisations like Crimestoppers where information can be left anonymously on a untraced telephone connection ( in the UK it is 0800 555 111 ) could be the way forward together with security tip off boxes (on the lines of a suggestion box but checked on a minute by minute basis, the ones I have seen are a development of the vacuum tube, but simply a gravity fed downpipe that drops a discreet note, written by the traveller, onto a manned desk on the floor below the departure area. The best ideas are sometimes the most simple.
In future we can expect to see changes to aircraft type and design, Ryanair are to experiment with 'No washroom' facility on short haul flights, greater use of security cameras on board, with individial cameras for each and every seat and a greater use of pre-boarding intelligence which inter alia will impact on all areas of Human Rights conventions. So the future looks as if the air time advantage will be further eroded, but all forms of transport and crowed places are easy targets for the dedicated terrorist or just deranged misguided individuals with evil intent, as the time honoured TV Cop series 'Hill Street Blues' officer would say "You be careful out there.." perhaps this is a good time to take the advice and repeat it often. [end]
Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray SKYPE: Julian.Bray.UK UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (B'cast ISDN Remote Studio) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5