Sunday, February 25, 2018

Serious breach of airport security

With a sense of disbelief I read an article in a Sunday newspaper ‘Suitcase full of bribe $$’, the story went on to report the details of the entry of Qatarian, Mohamed bin Hammam into Trinidad, while most of us were later made aware of the nature of his visit, which concerned the Qatar Football Association, and the subsequent effort to muster support for his country, as a potential host for a future World Cup, and the additional matter, of alleged brown envelopes stuffed with thousands of US dollars.

What most of us were ignorant to, was, the blatant abuse of protocols and disregard of mandatory safeguards and security at the Piarco International Airport. Having worked with the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States of America for the better part of ten years, I can speak with authority on this matter.

Internationally registered and recognised diplomats are afforded certain concessions and exemptions, which include travel arrangements, these are usually restricted to the most senior officials who are afforded the opportunity to be escorted to an official area, usually a diplomatic lounge, after which, Foreign Affairs or local diplomatic facilitators will undertake the responsibilities of clearing immigration and custom formalities, on their behalf while liaising with the relevant departmental heads.

To my horror I have learnt that the head of airport VIP protocol, totally abandoned the most basic of standard international aviation safety and operating procedure, and proceeded to escort not one, but ten individuals, with luggage directly to a VIP lounge. Bypassing the necessary agencies of immigration and customs, resulting in an egregious breach of security.

Under the existing laws of the Federal Aviation Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority, intentional breaches of Airport Security Systems would result in a penalty of a severe fine and or, immediate dismissal, and if considered a sufficiently palpable one, as I have so determined in the reported scenario, the particular individual or entity, would likely face a tribunal with an end result of penal punishment.

Further, the offending country can also be downgraded to a lower category rating, which involves assessments of compliance with International Safety Standards... these range from one-three, the lower the number the more restrictions apply, affecting access to airspace over the United States and elsewhere.

It therefore has a direct impact on national airlines, limiting future destinations.

Terrence Bedasie

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