BA’s chairman attacks security checks in US

THE
chairman of British Airways has attacked US airport security checks and has called for the UK to stop “kowtowing” to US security demands.

Practices such as forcing people to take off their shoes, and checking laptops separately, should be abandoned, Martin Broughton said.
Speaking at the UK Airport Operators’ Association annual conference, Broughton – who is also chairman of Liverpool FC – said the UK should only agree to security checks that the US requires for passengers on domestic flights.

“America does not do internally a lot of the things they demand that we do,” he was quoted as saying in the FT. “We shouldn’t stand for that.”

Broughton’s outburst came as it emerged yesterday that BA may face a fine of up to £70m for allegedly fixing cargo prices with other airlines.

The European Commission is understood to be considering fining BA between €60m (£53m) and €80m, although it is thought it has not made a final decision and talks are continuing.

The commission charged BA, Franco-Dutch airline Air France-KLM and several other airlines in December 2007 with allegedly taking part in an airfreight cartel, following raids on both sides of the Atlantic a year earlier that also involved the US Department of Justice.

At the time, Lufthansa, SAS, Air France-KLM, Japan Airlines, Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific, All Nippon Airways, Air Canada and Alitalia said they had been investigated. The EU watchdog is expected to announce penalties for the carriers on 9 November, although the commission said it had not set a date for an announcement.

A BA spokesman said the airline was co-operating with the commission on its investigation, but declined to comment further. “We’ve not said anything at all on this,” he said.