10

I've seen the following warning printed next to all TSA checkpoints in a US airport:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced the determination that aviation security at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), which serves as a last-point-of-departure airport for flights to the United States, does not maintain and carry out effective security consistent with the security standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

What is the point of this warning? Are they warning passengers that direct flights to Manila will be cancelled soon? Or is it just a generic warning designed to force Manila airport to improve their security?

  • 4
    It means you don't have to go through the security theater :) – Navin Jun 23 at 17:31
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    @Navin No, it means that the OP will have to go though a sub-standard security theater with outdated decorations and clumsy clowns. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jun 24 at 12:09
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    @DmitryGrigoryev And that they're likely they'll have a thorough set of checks US-side of such flights. – Mast Jun 24 at 15:33
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The signs are there because the law requires them to be. Federal law requires that the US government periodically assess the aviation security practices of foreign airports. If they are found to be deficient, the law requires that notices be posted:

(d)Actions When Not Maintaining and Carrying Out Effective Security Measures.— (1) When the Secretary of Transportation decides under this section that an airport does not maintain and carry out effective security measures— (A) the Secretary of Transportation shall— (i) publish the identity of the airport in the Federal Register; (ii) have the identity of the airport posted and displayed prominently at all United States airports at which scheduled air carrier operations are provided regularly; and (iii) notify the news media of the identity of the airport;

Airlines are also required to provide similar notice to people who book tickets to the airport.

Back in December, they announced that MNL airport had failed the assessment (there's been some history of problems there) and that advisories would be published. Hence the signs: the law says notices need to be posted, so here they are.

The law does permit a suspension of flights under such circumstances, but that's a discretionary act, not something that would be required, and I'm not aware of any public statements indicating that anybody is proposing such a measure. The authorities in the Philippines are trying to take steps to rectify the problems, with some financial support from the US government. So yes, it is meant as a warning to force them to improve their security practices and a warning to passengers that they could reconsider their travel, though there's at least the theoretical potential the US government could suspend flights if the airport doesn't improve.

These situations can often be addressed if the airline hires additional security (and expensive security consultants, naturally) to screen only US-bound flights. In some rare cases, airlines will build in a stopover where passengers can be rescreened before flying to the US. Until recently, this was done by Kuwait Airlines, where flights to the US made a stop in Shannon until the US authorities were satisfied with Kuwait's airport security improvements. So there may also be other options beyond a suspension of flights in some cases.

8

Although it's certainly correct to say "the signs are there because the law requires them to be", and other answers point to the possible effects if the situation continues, the underlying point of the warning is to let people know that the US Government considers security at Manila Airport to be inadequate.

Inadequate security means they believe there is a higher chance of flights out of Manila being attacked, hijacked or blown up than other flights.

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    "The US Government considers security to be inadequate" and "Security is inadequate" are two different things. Do you have any statistics of attacks, hijacks, etc on flights out of Manila? Of course there have been attacks on the airport itself (any high profile public space is a possible target), but that is not the same thing as attacks on actual flights. Apart from a generic "such as.." reference in the introductory paragraph, this UK Government foreign travel advisory contains nothing: gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/philippines/terrorism – alephzero Jun 23 at 22:15
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    Nobody asked "Is security to inadequate". The sign just means that DHS believes so. – DJClayworth Jun 24 at 0:33

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