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Security lapses in airport management: The Fort Lauderdale case


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Communications is an integral component of prudent management in the aviation industry in both safety and security. The latter has proved to be a significant concern in the context of airports, where acts of violence have been perpetrated in terminal buildings. The security risks faced by airports took a bizarre turn when, in January 2017, a mentally deranged passenger who had arrived from Alaska at Terminal 2 of Fort-Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport carried out a mass shooting at the baggage claim area, where arriving passengers were waiting for their baggage to arrive on the carousel. Five people were killed while six others were injured in the shooting. The unfortunate event could have been effectively prevented by the authorities involved by proactive management, had they looked actively for the identification of safety risks through the analysis of the airport’s activities, particularly as they had known that the perpetrator, who had a history of mental illness and depression, had declared in the security check point in Alaska that he was carrying a gun in his checked baggage. The authorities failed to advise the destination airport of this fact, which enabled the killer to clear his bag, zip it open and unleash a barrage of gunfire on the unsuspecting passengers and others in the baggage claim area. This paper examines, through the Fort Lauderdale case, air law as a management tool in airport management and advises airport managers of the compelling importance of applying real-time normal operations to identify future problems. It also establishes that the application of trends to possible scenarios would logically lead to predictive or anticipatory intelligence, which in turn would ensure prudent airport management.
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Keywords: Annex 14; Annex 19; airport management; anticipatory intelligence; attacks at airports; safety management

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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  • Journal of Airport Management is the essential professional journal publishing in-depth, peer-reviewed articles and real world case studies on airport management, finance, development, ground-handling, airport-airline relations and regulation - with no advertising or sales pitches.

    Guided by an expert Editorial Board and published in association with Airports Council International, each quarterly 100-page issue publishes original, authoritative articles and case studies written by and for airport managers, ground-handling companies, airlines and regulators, as well as their advisers, service providers, researchers and academics. Each issue provides detailed analysis, new thinking, 'lessons learned' and 'how to' guides from fellow professionals around the world that can be applied in your organisation, plus the latest research in the field.
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