Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300
WEDNESDAY 9 JANUARY 2002
300. How would you envisage a situation, are
you suggesting that passengers carry their hold luggage and the
screening of hand baggage should be left to the last possible
moment? Are you suggesting that passengers take their bags to
the plane and load it there? How else can you ensure this provision
is not breached?
(Mr Lyle) The reason for that provision, no bag loaded
on a plane without its owner, is to accommodate. As we know, at
the moment when a bag goes on a plane and if the passenger does
not go on the plane then the bag is taken off the plane. There
is evidence that planes have even been brought back 20 minutes
into a flight because the bag of a passenger is on there. Because
things go wrong and bags can fall off trolleys as they are going
through the airport there is plenty of evidence, the Chairman
obviously accepts that evidence, that people arrive at their destination
with no bag. That bag has gone somewhere else, so when that bag
has to be then transported to the passenger what we are saying
is that it needs to have a very, very in-depth security check
on it because the chain has been broken. The bag has gone somewhere
that it should not have gone so, therefore, before it then goes
back to the passenger or back to the destination that the passenger
is at there should be a very, very severe scrutinisation of that
bag. The other incident we are talking about, when we are talking
being people taking bags on planes what we are saying is the number
of bags that should be taken on planes should be minimal. If we
look at our airports now the further up the cabin you are the
bigger the bag you can take on and the more bags you can take
on. This is causing a great problem for security people who are
sitting there checking bag after bag going through the x-ray system.
The less bags that people carry on planes the bigger advantage
we think it is in maintaining the security network that we are
probably rather proud of in this country, but problems occur.
301. Are you not finding that standard practice
at the moment, if there is an unaccompanied bag on a plane that
that bag has to be identified and taken off, is that not happening?
(Mr Lyle) Yes, it is, that is happening and there
is no difficulty there.
Chairman: We take the point.
302. You say the support in the US for federalising
of airport security, that should be the responsibility of the
federal government, and you then go on to say failing this airports
should be able to contract out security work, do you mean in this
country or the States?
(Mr Lyle) I mean in this country. If I was starting
off from scratch again I believe that security at airports should
be run by the state, I think they should be state employees, but
we are not there.
303. That is one of the difficulties between
El-Al and the others.
(Mr Lyle) I cannot go back to that. What I am saying
quite clearly is in the terms of your seven BAA airports security
staff are BAA employees. That, I find is laudable. What I find
unacceptable is that an airport can contract out their security,
because I think you break the chain.
Miss McIntosh: Following on from that, are you
convinced and your members convinced that security checks done
on perspective security employees are sufficient against the background
of 11 September in this country?
304. Do you have any way of knowing that?
(Mr Lyle) They have to comply to the CAA regulations
and rules, so the answer to that is a qualified yes.
305. Would some of the security guards employed
at Manchester be members of your Union?
Chairman: We cannot record a nod, Mr Lyle.
(Mr Lyle) Yes.
306. Obviously for many of us serviced by Manchester
airport it was source of great concern to us that security jobs
were lost prior to the summer timetable being announced. Do have
you any particular reason to know why these jobs were lost in
(Mr Lyle) I hate to duck the question, I do not know,
because it is being dealt with by my regional officer in Manchester.
Chairman: Can we have a short note?
Miss McIntosh: Are your members satisfied that
the level of security into non EU third country airports, into
which our planes are flying, meets the same high standards we
have set in this country?
Chairman: That is rather a general question.
You might like to think about it and give us your general views
307. In relation to the question put to you
by the Chairman you said there were obviously some concerns at
the level of the package that is being offered to American carriers
following 11 September. We understand that not many US carriers
have taken up the offer of that money, are you satisfied there
is a level playing field there?
(Mr Sealey) As far as we are aware two at the moment
have received support, that is American West Airlines, which received
$38 million, and also Fed Express have received I think it was
$116 million as well. At the moment those are the two that we
are aware of.
308. Are you satisfied there is a level playing
field in terms of the package that has been offered by the British
government post 11 September?
(Mr Sealey) In a sense, no, because the second part
of the US package is far different from what is being paid in
the United Kingdom. The money that is being paid in the United
Kingdom is what they call the four 365ths for four days. There
was a similar amount paid to US airlines immediately under a $5
billion scheme, this is separate aid to the airlines. There are
some conditions attached to it, that the US government can take
a share option in the company, but it is over and above what has
been received in this country. It is not a level playing field.
309. If the trade unionists are of the opinion
that British Airways have it about right have you taken into the
equation, on the basis that the industry is going to grow again,
that perhaps the experience of the staff that have gone is lost
and the effect on your membership's ability to be able to deliver
a proper service and the effect on the British economy to the
over-shedding of jobs at this stage?
(Mr Lyle) I am not sure I used the expression that
British Airways have it about right. What I have been at pains
to say is we negotiated with British Airways and reached a conclusion
that we found reasonably acceptable. We were facing the company
losing £125 million a month with the sort of traffic figures
that we have. We started from the basis of no enforced redundancies.
Those people that have gone on short-term work and on extended
leave are still employees of British Airways, so if business does
turn up and come back then obviously we will be in a position
to have those people back for full time employment or come off
their extended leave. I was at pains to say that the cabin crew,
who actually took the biggest job cuts of all, even prior to 11
September, there were 400 odd who always wanted part-time work.
Those people are still on the books.
310. You talk about how the industry will roll
again. At the moment it is a pretty labour intensive industry,
if there is very significant movement towards the low costs carriers
and cutting out a lot of what people will describe as the frills
of air travel are we not going to have an industry that employs
a lot fewer people but carries a lot more passengers?
(Mr Sealey) The answer to that would be, yes. If I
can give you one example, Lufthansa have announced on flights
less than an hour and a half they are not going to serve any meals,
that is going to result not only in a loss of cabin jobs but also
the consequential loss of employment within the catering firms
that supply the food. Directly in the industry there will be a
loss and also outside the industry as well.
311. It could take rather longer for the industry
as far as jobs are concerned to recover than it will do as far
as the airlines and their profits are concerned?
(Mr Sealey) Yes.
Chairman: Gentlemen, you have been extremely
helpful and patient thank you both very much indeed.