Intereview of Mr Panayiotis Kambouroglou on "Phileleftheros"

12 June 2016

The safety of airports, airplanes and flights from malicious actions is nowadays subject of daily discussions.

It particularly concerns all of the people who travel and not only those. The incidents in Bryxeles, the crash of the airplane in desert Sina, the most recent crash of the Egyptian airplane of westwards Cyprus, the grotesque hijack that ended up to Larnaca and a lot of other incidents, bring the Safetyissue into the limelight.

The airport infrastructures are highly important and nodal. Their operation is not just a great distribution to the tourism of each country, but also for the trade. At the same time there constitute ideal targets for terrorism or a ring in the chain of terrorism enterprise. Equally high risks are the processes until the embarkation of passengers and the cargo loading.

For this matter we requested the opinion of an expert, with wider knowledge and experience in the sector of security services, of safety and critical infrastructures, Mr. Panagiotis Kambouroglou, Chairman of the BoD and Managing Director of ICTS Hellas and Regional Director of ICTS Europe in South-eastern Europe. Mr. Kambouroglou has been, among other, representative of the German Industries Union (BDI) in the European Union and executive of the team that prepared the operation of the International Airport of Athens. He speaks English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian and Turkish. ICTS is an international group with important presence in all range in the sector of safety of air transportations, maritime and most critical infrastructures, moreover the Group operates in more than 80 locations internationally and employs more from 10.000 individuals in Europe, Northern America, South Africa and Far East.



A matter of world consideration and concern, that worries all, is the threat of terrorism that creates also the feeling of insecurity. This becomes perceptible particularly in the airports and airplanes that constitute terrorism targets. Are the current Safety processes, the education and the experience of personnel and the technical means, sufficient for the armoring of safety of air transportations against the terrorist threat?

We must speak the truth, the fertile doubt exists, 100% safety does not exist anywhere.  The air transportations remain the leading objective of terrorism. Thus, we focus in the prevention and we owe mainly to keep assessments records of venturousness.

These assessments are made mainly from the government owned services of safety of each country in collaboration with the services of civil aviation, the airports and the airline companies. Consequently, each level of venturousness is jointly decided. In general terms the level of safety of air transportations in Europe is good. Differentiations certainly exist, depending on the country and the level of safety, the requirements of society and the degree of government owned controls of safety.

Of course, judging from the recent attack in the Egyptian airplane we conclude that a there is a particularly difficult subject which occupies us all in the branch: known as Insider Threat, that is the collaboration of Air Transportation employees with terrorist Organizations. Therefore, there should be regular secondary controls in order to limit such type of dangers.

Is the Regulatory Frame Sufficient or new Security measures is required? 

Our opinion is that they do not need to establish new rules of safety in European level. The rules are enough.  We must focus at better performance as well as the most optimal collaboration between the Authorities, National and International.

Following the attack in Brussels, there have been many discussions about whether the Airport Entrance Check is required, as Istanbul and Tel Aviv do.

Personally I do not consider that this measure really succeeds.

One of the repercussions of Safety measures increase at the Air Transportations is the passengers’discomfort, the waiting hours at the line for Control Process, etc.  Is there a solution to this problem or the key is just << Patience>>?

All airports, already work hard for the customer satisfaction and the passenger experience regarding the Security matter but also the profit growth from the commercial activities. 

The fact that the most new Airport constructed today in Europe is in Istanbul, and in particular with certain specifications qualified to be the biggest in the world, becomes completely comprehensible that mainly the central Europe has an important issue the lack of suitable airport infrastructures. 

In hubs, such as, London, Paris, Frankfurt, the waiting lines of passengers are already big. This fact contributes that the Security measures that have been added following each terrorist blow, had not been forecasted in the initial planning of Airports. This results many problems to the initiate passengers flow.

Therefore the next years we need patience at the big airports, till the new system of controls   can be defined with latest technology,   with multiple control positions, more personal interviews and personal data control. At the same time, the control for likely terrorists will be relocated outside the airports via better collaboration of Authorities with main target the prevention. I would say that we already live in the future.

We all travel and the observational passenger realizes that the Security procedures are not at equal level in the European Airports, there are small or bigger differences. 

If you agree, why is there a differentiation and what does that mean for the overall Security of air transportations in the EU? 

The Security procedures in Europe are mutual and based on common European regulations. Their concretization differs concerning the technology, the danger evaluations, and Local Authorities controls but also the vision of each Airport. It differs also from the number of Airport employees assigned for the controls, their attribute, experience, education as well as the internal Audits of the Security companies quality airports and government Authorities.

The existing system is already particularly complicated due to the constant requirements additions. 

It’s a fact that there is an Authorities consideration, specially between Europe and USA , if the level of controls should be foreseeable for the passenger or not.

It’s in the first part`s favour,    the passengers flow speed.

From other side, the unpredictability of controls complicates the terrorists prospective.   


The fact that in an Airport there are airplanes landing and departing not just from European countries but also from very different countries and the Security levels of each airline company also do differ, is that also a matter that creates voids and problems in security?

I believe that nowadays the passengers’ majority choose the destination and the airline company taking into consideration each personal safety. 

For the next years to come our personal and family safety, will significantly influence our choices. According to the valid European Regulations, it is considered that all flights inside the European Union fulfil the common models of safety. Consequently, the joint flow of passengers departing and landing is allowed.

Regarding flights from Countries outside the European Union, transit passengers’ are being separated and they go through new controls before they proceed to their destination flights.  Thus, here we have the segregation till passengers check in each European Airport. There are Exceptions for flights from USA, but they are based on concrete inter-country agreements. Finally, I would like to point that we worked, and me personally, in various international forums, so that we may achieve single stop worldwide, which means that the passenger is checked once regardless the country of origin. 

This means of course that all countries have common security models and check with the same way passengers, baggage’s and cargo. 

I consider that the safety of passengers owes to be part of their total positive experience.

Passenger’s safety is a part of the equation, and the other part is their most optimal service. At the present, more than half of airports profit comes from the commercial exploitation of its infrastructure such as restaurants, shops, parking etc.

The smart technology(smart security) tries to combine both : :the passenger or the visitor of airport to feel safe and satisfied from airports services so to have time to make purchases instead of wasting time waiting at long passenger lines.

It’s true that in the past few years, we observe the usage of modern technology, the change of Control Procedures due to the technology progress, such as body scanner but also with biometric controls with trained dogs. However, an important notice is that in Europe the technology covers governmental protocols. Air Transportations Security Sector cannot be defined as particularly innovative due to the Government intervention at all procedures and mainly in new technology certification. Unfortunately, we face Safety as a Cost and not as a Source of Added value.

Taking under consideration your great experience in the Air Transportation Security Division, do   you consider that the States, the Security Authorities, the Airport Administrators, the Airline companies have the required resources, financial, human  etc. for maintenance of high Security levels??

I repeat, the Security Level in is good. 

At the end, the security measures cost is being waged to the passenger. He finances the security cost via the security fee. 

Improvement is required concerning the collaboration of National and European Authorities in the Prevention sector.

The Regulating Authorities show increased interest, lately, for new technology usage.

The main Security dynamic aspect in Security remains and always will be the human factor and that’s where we should focus at the upcoming years; their education, their daily management as well as how seriously society and Authorities face their work. 

We all depend on how well and conscientiously a Security Guard does his job.

We live the time of “intelligent” or “brilliant” systems. Did the Air Transportation Security develop this modern technology?

The last 2-3 years we mainly see individual initiatives for experimental use of new technologies and improvement of transport Security. I would like to note that Smart Security is still at early stage of Development. 

However, we are talking about a mutual and innovative initiative of International Air Transportation Associations (IATA) and Airports (ACI). In Europe the leading location is Amsterdam and Heathrow is next.

 It is however an ascertainment that the airports and the airline companies in general do not innovate in the Security Sector in Europe, contrary to Asia. They prefer the conformity with the rules from the innovation. 


In Cyprus, we passed from critical periods regarding Air Transportation Security Sector, with climax a few years ago the settlement of Airport Pafos under the terms of “Article 15” of the European Union.

There was a diachronic juxtaposition between the Civil Aviation and Police as for responsibilities, duties, controls etc. The Result was even to proceed with a  Memorandum of Collaboration assignment between the Government Ministries in order to co-ordination. Today, for a lot of reasons there is the Governmental decision on entrusting a series of Air transportation Security matters in the private sector. 

Having the long experience and responsibility for south-eastern Europe and Greece with ICTS, I certainly applaud this development action. However there are some concerns. As an example, It`s not equitable matters of national safety, to be left in the hands of private individuals. The Security levels that the Governmental Authorities can ensure are superior in comparison to those of private organizations. 

 How do you comment these hesitations? 

The reason that ICTS set up offices in Cyprus nine years ago was precisely in order to contribute in this institutional change and we contribute in the success of this concretization due to our long experience. We became spectators of difficulties in the planning, the application and the concretization of the European most optimal practices in Air Transportation Security.   The European practice, the impasses of current Cyprus model that equitably you described, the importance of tourism for Cyprus economy but also the unstable international environment, impulse the Country to see the Safe Air Transportations as political and strategic priority. I am glad for the public dialogue that has opened in Cyprus for this matter. What impresses me however the Air Transportation controls has become a National Safety matter is. Today in Europe the controls of passengers, hand luggage, baggages, cargo and employees in the Airports are held under the European Regulations almost entirety by private Security companies. The collaboration between the private sector and Government Authorities in Air Transportation Controls existed and remains exemplary. 

The release issue of the Cyprus police Authorities from the unnecessary occupation at airport controls will help the Police in Cyprus to focus better in matters of responsibility regarding the danger evaluations, the prevention and the conduction of more controls on the spot and patrols.

Moreover, it will help considerably in expenses reduction for the government budget, since the cost of controls will exclusively be paid by the Cyprus people, as it happens today.

Consequently with the proposed system the Cypriote passenger will acquire a European model of Air Transportation Security  with improved level of safety, better service cause of even more available spots of controls, it will waste less time in the waiting lines and it will pay globally less from what is paying today.

I am convinced from up todays experience; that better Air safety will immediately increase the flights and the number of passengers in Cyprus.