Monday,20 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1310, (1 - 7 September 2016)
Monday,20 November, 2017
Issue 1310, (1 - 7 September 2016)

Ahram Weekly

New measures on airport security

Samia Fakhry talks to Sherif Khaled, CEO of the National Falcon Company for Airport Security, which is taking over security at Egypt’s airports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The Falcon Group, which entered the public eye after the 25 January Revolution when it began providing security services at Egyptian universities, has now gone into airport security, owning 20 per cent of the National Falcon Company for Airport Security that is soon to take over security at the country’s airports.

The remaining 80 per cent of the company is owned by state security.

In an interview with the Weekly, National Falcon CEO Sherif Khaled talked about the company’s operations and the new measures that would be introduced to guarantee airport security. 

 

What is the National Falcon’s capital?

An appropriate amount of capital has been found to cover five years of the company’s operations, in addition to revenues because its services are fee-based. The capitalisation is sufficient for the company to do the best job possible. Every enterprise also has an investment plan prepared in advance. I expect the company’s capital to increase by 25 per cent in the coming five years.

 

What are your plans for improving security at Egypt’s airports?

The first phase will start in August at the Sharm El-Sheikh Airport, taking into account the recommendations of the consultancy firm Control Risks which the government hired after the crash of the Russian passenger plane last year. The next phase will be at the new Cairo Airport, to open soon, followed by other airports in an order that has yet to be determined. These include the airports at Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Luxor, Aswan, and Borg Al-Arab.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation signed contracts for the latest airport security equipment before National Falcon was created in order to improve security for tourists. A contract was also signed with Restrata, a British company and one of the biggest in the world in training airport security staff and passenger and luggage inspection. We have signed three contracts with Restrata ourselves. The first is a contract for training on the most modern equipment from abroad. The second is a consulting contract, under which training courses will be given on searching passengers and luggage. The third is to supervise and confirm the enforcement of international quality standards.

These courses are in addition to the establishment of a training institute in Egypt like the one Restrata runs in the UK as a partnership agreement between National Falcon and Restrata. The feasibility studies are now underway. It should be born in mind that there is also another training programme for airport personnel accredited by international aviation authorities like the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) with the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority.

 

When will the training institute be operational?

We are looking into the acquisition of a suitable building, which we may build from scratch. The institute will admit Egyptians and people from other countries. We expect it to start operating within six months.

 

How many employees will the company have?

Two thousand have been accepted and have undergone tests and procedures like medical exams. All of them have completed training courses, which is a condition of the ICAO and IATA. Less than one per cent of them have been disqualified. When the work is underway, we intend to employ about 5,000 people. We will also organise an annual training refresher course, in addition to training managers. When an individual is promoted to a more senior position, he will go through another training course.

 

Does the new equipment differ from that currently in use?

The nature of the inspection equipment is no different, but the new equipment is more advanced and more modern. People will still pass through metal detectors and bags will go through inspection equipment, however, and there will be equipment to detect liquids, explosives, or traces of explosives.

 

What is the cost of the training programmes for people working in the airports?

The cost of the training programmes will be covered by existing capital as well as by revenue from the service itself. There’s a difference between national work and profit-oriented work, so our profit will not be high as a company because our work is related to security and national matters. When we contribute in part to state stability, we make more domestic and foreign investment possible. I expect that some 10 per cent of companies in Egypt will want to work with us to help secure their operations.

 

What are the benefits and duties of workers?

We offer attractive salaries and additional benefits like bonuses and medical insurance. Employees work no more than eight hours a day. We are also using female security personnel, and they have gone through the same tests, procedures, and training as their male colleagues, so there will be one female security person for each inspection point.

 

Will some exceptions in airports, known as “courtesies,” continue?

We’re talking about facilities where such courtesies don’t apply. There is a cooperation protocol between National Falcon, the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and the Cairo Ports Authority. All inspection procedures are applied to everyone without exception. I myself saw at the Sharm El-Sheikh Airport that the interior minister and his aides were subject to the same security measures as everyone else, as were all airport workers, all agency workers, and all passengers. There will be no exceptions to airport security measures.

Our role starts at the beginning of the airport building and covers each gate inside, including arrivals. All the country’s security agencies are present as well, including criminal investigations, border security, and passport control, which is the purview of the Interior Ministry.

 

Are you using Restrata because it’s a British company and the UK has put a travel ban on the Sharm El-Sheikh Airport?

If we went by this logic, we would bring in a Russian, British, and a German company. Russia put a travel ban on Egypt, so it would have been better to bring in a Russian company. We looked for the most professional company. Restrata is the biggest firm specialising in airport security in the world, particularly inspections of passengers and luggage, and it has worked in nearly all European airports. In addition to Europe, Restrata has worked in airports in Afghanistan, Iraq, the UAE, and elsewhere.

I hope we can now all join efforts to bring back tourists to Egypt, since they have a direct and indirect benefit for all Egyptians, from taxi-drivers to the employees of restaurants, hotels, and 70 other industries. Tourism is one of the engines of development for the Egyptian economy.

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