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Top airline bosses launch assault on airport ID card plan

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The bosses of the UK's major airlines have attacked plans to force airport workers to enrol in the national ID card scheme, claiming that "the UK aviation industry is being used for political purposes on a project which has questionable public support."* If anything the move, they say, could reduce security by adding a "false sense of security to our processes."

In a letter sent to home secretary Jacqui Smith under the auspices of the British Air Transport Association, the bosses of airlines including British Airways, Virgin, BMI and EasyJet, the MDs and CEOs of several airports and the general secretary of airline union BALPA express their "determined opposition" to the proposal. It will add extra processes, costs and risks to "an already comprehensive system of identity and record checks", and airside staff "are already the subject of extremely thorough vetting and criminal records checks." ID cards add nothing to this, they say.

And while we're here, can we add that you're screwing up border controls, on our tab? "The UK aviation industry continues to work with the Home Office on a wide variety of initiatives (such as e-Borders) which are adding financial burdens and inconvenience to companies and their customers, but without any compensatory benefits."

For example, they say, there are the more rigorous immigration checks which have been introduced accompanied by "insufficient resources and consequently much longer queues." Junk the cards, they tell Smith, and "the priority for Government attention should be the improved efficiency of border processes which would result in a more reliable operation and better levels of service for the travelling public." ®

* Coincidentally, the Identity & Passport Service this week claimed that support for ID cards remained steady at 59 per cent. Equally coincidentally, No2ID this week denounced the IPS 'tracking research' approach as spin, and published its own independently-conducted research that showed the public split 50-50 on ID cards, but two to one against the underlying database. More details here.

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