Security loopholes at HKIA exposed
By Hilary Mare
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is reconsidering its continuation of flight operations to Namibia due to the lack of improvement of the security performance by the Namibian authorities and unforeseen substantial extra costs incurred for contracted secondary security screening controls, Confidente can exclusively reveal.
With the airline having expanded its scheduled service to Windhoek in October 2016, Namibia is poised to lose services of an airline that welcomed a record 32.7 million passengers aboard its flights in 2017 subsequently attaining a record load factor of 88.4 percent over the year as a whole.
Documents in possession of Confidente disclose a detailed report that lays bare security deficiencies that forced KLM to resort to private security at their own expense in a bid to protect their brand and reputation.
KLM security Director and Deputy Vice President, Ronald Augustin, also wrote a letter to government on January 18 2018 bemoaning poor aviation security performance at Hosea Kutako International Airport further highlighting that the airline had incurred expenses, for the secondary security controls, through November 2017 of approximately N$4.7 million.
The letter carbon copied to Nampol, the public enterprise minister, works and transport minister, NCAA as well as Namibia Airports Company argued that the poor security screening controls conducted by Nampol, the NCAA's supervisory role, and the absence of security threat awareness, training and understanding by all stakeholders had placed KLM flight operations at considerable risk.
“KLM seeks support from the relevant government leadership. We would like to see a solid plan of improvement from the appropriate Namibian authorities, with clear timeframes and measurable milestones to, finally, achieve an acceptable aviation security framework and performance, reflecting international standards,” warns the letter.
In the same letter last week, Augustin went on to emphasise that KLM believed it is fair that they be compensated by the Namibian government for the costs they incurred for the necessary secondary security controls that are required in order maintain the minimum acceptable level of security for its passengers and crew.
Bemoaning lack of positive response from Namibian authorities on the security status quo, Augustin noted: “At the commencement of KLM operations to Windhoek in October 2016, a KLM security inspection revealed inadequate security controls at Hosea Kutako International Airport, particularly in the area of passenger and staff screening, including their accessible property, the security controls are dramatically inconsistent. When we addressed these concerns and observations with the authorities, Nampol and NCAA, they rebuked these observations”.
He further indicates KLM ultimately decided that a secondary security control was required in the departure hall, and contracted NPS, a local security provider, to do so adding that NPS operations were supervised by KLM security officers in order to achieve a minimum acceptable level of security.
“Since then, no improvement in the security controls executed by the Namibian authorities has been observed. During the first couple of months KLM addressed to the NCAA its concerns about the poor level of security controls and presented as evidence multiple prohibited items confiscated from passengers at its self-implemented secondary controls in the departure hall.
“Thereafter, ironically, KLM only encountered hindrances in realizing the secondary security controls. KLM security staff encountered immigration hurdles, and was not allowed to conduct a security training scheduled for our local security vendor. NAMPOL and NCAA did not respond to KLM's invitation to partake in a joint security workshop in November 2017, which was agreed to several some months earlier. For more than a year, KLM Security Services monitored the primary (NAMPOL & NCAA) and secondary passenger and staff screening controls. In forty-nine week reports, no improvements have been made,” explains Augustin.
Speaking on behalf of government, Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste, acknowledged receiving the letter further noting that government was taking steps to address the situation.
“I received the letter and enjoyed a pleasant meeting with them this morning. Operations at the airport are of a multi-stakeholder dimension making it more complex than one might imagine. We are grateful that KLM shared their experience with us and also that they made some recommendations which will be considered. A roadmap will be developed within the next few days to address the concerns and we will ensure that these measures are implemented without delay. Airport security is not static and something which is continuously reviewed to identify ways to enhance the systems. I don’t believe that there is a threat of KLM exiting the destination as we have agreed to pursue the matter and to rectify any potential weaknesses. KLM has equally shared their commitment to continue with the service to Windhoek and these interactions are part of normal stakeholder consultations as we all strive to improve the quality of service delivery,” said Jooste on Tuesday afternoon.
Founded on October 7, 1919, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is the oldest scheduled airline in the world still operating under its original name. In 2016, the KLM Group operated worldwide flights with over 200 aircraft, generating €10 billion revenues and employing 32.000 staff from its Amsterdam basis.
Windhoek is KLM’s twelfth destination in Africa which also flies to Luanda (Angola), Johannesburg and Cape Town (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya), Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Entebbe (Uganda), Kigali (Rwanda), Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana) and Cairo (Egypt)among others.
The airline also, together with our partners, serves 56 different destinations in Africa.
In 2017, KLM was able to expand its network by 15 destinations to meet its customers’ needs. This brought the total number of KLM destinations to 165 worldwide.