Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300 - 311)



Miss McIntosh

  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.

Miss McIntosh

  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.

Miss McIntosh

  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 security?
  (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 on security.

  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.

Mr Donohoe

  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.

Andrew Bennett

  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.

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