Singapore minister urges aviation industry to improve travel procedures


SINGAPORE (XFNews) - Singapore Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong urged the aviation sector to streamline travel procedures amid increasingly strict security measures against terrorism.

"We need to find the appropriate balance - the balance between safeguarding security versus the smooth facilitation and clearance of passengers through our airports," Yeo told an international aviation conference here.

He said strong growth in air travel despite soaring oil prices and security threats had put "an increasing strain on both airports and airlines on maintaining a high level of service for their customers."

"So unless we devise new and better ways to cope with the rising travel demand and the increased security requirements, we risk turning passengers off with long waiting times, flight delays, overcrowding and safety fears."

He urged airlines and airports as well as civil aviation, border control and security agencies to play their part in re-examining travel processes and initiating improvements.

Echoing Yeo's sentiments, aviation experts said the financial strains caused by the implementation of tighter security measures can only be alleviated if airports and governments collaborate to harmonise and co-ordinate such activities.

"Since September 11 (2001), the extra security measures have cost airlines 5.6 bln usd a year," said Andrew Drysdale, regional vice-president of the International Air Transport Association. According to the association, global passenger traffic in the first half of 2005 rose 8.8 pct from the same period a year ago. 

Total passenger traffic was up 5.3 pct in 2004 compared to the previous year.

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