Europe's airports expect significant cost from new U.S. security measures

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 29, 2017 9:31 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - Significant costs are expected to be incurred from new security measures on flights to the United States, which will likely be borne by airports, airlines and passengers, European airports association ACI Europe said on Thursday.

The measures, announced on Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security and applicable to all commercial flights to the United States, include increased explosive trace detection efforts and more screening of passengers.

"It's difficult to estimate, at this point, how much the new measures will cost, but it is likely to be significant," a spokesman for ACI Europe told Reuters.

"Unless national governments assist with funding them, then the cost will ultimately fall on airports, airlines and air travelers," he said, adding there was no time to lose to implement the measures.

Airlines and airports across Europe said it was too early to give details of any operational impact or costs. Airlines such as Lufthansa and Norwegian Air Shuttle said they would work with authorities to implement the measures.

As an example of the costs for airports, when new European Union rules on explosive trace detection on passengers and hand luggage came into force in 2015, Brussels Airport said it had invested 1.5 million euros into equipment for the checks.

The airports with the most U.S.–bound flights in Europe are London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam Schiphol and Dublin.

A spokeswoman for Schiphol airport, which has already seen long security queues this summer, said moving U.S. flights to another part of Schiphol could be an option, but it was unclear at the moment whether that would be necessary.

Heathrow Airport said it would provide updated advice to passengers "in due course".

There was also relief that the new measures would avoid an extension of the ban on passengers bringing large electronic devices such as laptops and tablets into cabins, which many had predicted would have resulted in widespread disruption at airports and led to increased fire risks from storing such devices in the hold.

"We are satisfied that, at this stage, the U.S. has ... instead decided in favor of more targeted measures to address identified risks, without compromising safety," ACI Europe said.

Emirates Airline, one of those affected by the laptop ban introduced in March, said it would work to implement the new measures as soon as possible, with a view to the ban being lifted.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan, Bart Meijer in Amsterdam, Alistair Smout in London, Alexander Cornwell in Dubai, editing by David Evans)