American-driven airport security measures which have been irritating travellers for a decade will eventually have to be relaxed as more people fly, says a senior pilot.
Mark Rammell, the NZ Airline Pilots Association president, says "time is money" where airports are concerned and time-saving measures - such as electronic self-check-in - will increasingly become the norm.
That will mean airports and their customer airlines will have to work to get more people onto flights faster - hopefully at the expense of the privacy-busting security procedures.
"They are going to have to find better ways of processing people, and the same surely will occur with security."
European air officials this week accused the United States of imposing useless and overly intrusive travel security measures - such as online checks and shoe x-raying. British Airways chairman Martin Broughton told airport operators that removing shoes and taking laptops out of bags were "completely redundant" measures demanded by the US. He called on British authorities not to "kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done".
BA's rival Virgin Atlantic agreed, saying new technology was urgently needed to make airport security checks faster and less intrusive, while remaining effective.
Mr Rammell said the security processes - particularly those for flights heading into the US - meant extra inconvenience for people, including aircrew, but were for the best.
"At least now when I get on that aeroplane I am pretty confident there are no weapons on board."
Air NZ refused to comment specifically on the security measures, but said it worked closely with the Aviation Security Service to keep passenger delays to a minimum. The airline would support any measures that might speed passengers' through airport security in New Zealand.
House of Travel spokesman Brent Thomas said that although the rigorous security checks were "one of the pet hates" of Kiwi travellers, they accepted it was a necessary evil in the modern age.
"People understand wanting to be safe ... but they also think it a bit of a headache for people travelling."
The US remained a popular destination, despite terrorist threats and added security which had no "long-term effect" on visitor numbers.
* Remove shoes.
* Take laptops out of bags.
* Fill out landing form online before travelling.By David Eames Email David