St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN); In addition to a tougher screening process when applying for a US visa, travelers to the US will now have to undergo additional security screening at airports for direct outbound flights.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the new security initiatives on Wednesday, saying the Department is working to raise the baseline for aviation security across the globe by implementing both seen and unseen enhanced security measures at all last-point-of-departure airports in 105 countries around world.
United States Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly said he met and held talks with international partners, industry leaders and private sector stakeholders with respect to securing aviation before arriving at the decision to beef up airport screenings.
“As we continue to face evolving threats, enhancing aviation security worldwide is critical in keeping the traveling public safe and secure. Make no mistake: our enemies are constantly working to find new methods for disguising explosives, recruiting insiders, and hijacking aircraft. Terrorists want to bring down aircraft to instill fear, disrupt our economies, and undermine our way of life. And it works—which is why they still see aviation as the crown jewel target in their world.
“The threat has not diminished. In fact, I am concerned that we are seeing renewed interest on the part of terrorist groups to go after the aviation sector—from bombing aircraft to attacking airports on the ground, as we saw in Brussels and Istanbul. However, we are not standing on the sidelines while fanatics hatch new plots. The U.S. government is focused on deterring, detecting, and disrupting these threats. It is time that we raise the global baseline of aviation security.
“We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat. Instead, we must put in place new measures across the board to keep the traveling public safe and make it harder for terrorists to succeed.”
The new security measures will be applied to all commercial flights coming into the United States from abroad. They will include enhanced screening of electronic devices, more thorough passenger vetting, and new measures designed to mitigate the potential threat of insider attacks.
The Homeland Security Chief said the Department will also lay out a clear path to encourage airlines and airports to adopt more sophisticated screening approaches, including better use of explosive detection canines and advanced checkpoint screening technology.
Kelly made it clear that the new initiatives are not an option.
“Those who choose not to cooperate or are slow to adopt these measures could be subject to other restrictions—including a ban on electronic devices on aircraft, or even a suspension of their flights to the United States.”
The new security measures are scheduled to be implemented in phases.
Three US commercial airlines provide direct flights in and out of St. Kitts’ RL Bradshaw International Airport- American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta, and one regional airline Seaborne, that has direct flights to US territories- namely the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
While SCASPA is responsible for airport security, the airlines are responsible for the TSA-like passenger screening before departure on outbound US flights.
WINN spoke with Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tourism and Aviation about the US’ enhanced passenger screening security measures.
The Minister said the recent announcement from US Homeland Security represents the US response to their perceived security interests and the impact on St Kitts and Nevis which has daily flights to the US mainland and her territories can be significant.
“We live in an increasingly security conscious world. We now need to upgrade our capabilities to ensure that we meet the new standards. In that regard we have already commenced our interaction with the relevant US agencies such as TSA and the US State Department to see how best we can ensure compliance and ensure that both our RL Bradshaw and Vance Amory International airports remain open for flights to the US. In that regard we look forward to the technical assistance of the TSA as we partner in the global effort to secure citizen safety and security and in particular aviation security.”