The threat of terrorism on aeroplanes and airports should be handled on a more cooperative international basis after a resolution passed unanimously today by the United Nations Security Council.

The meeting was chaired by Foreign Minister Murray McCully and followed an initiative by British foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to try to get a more global approach to aviation security.

It is designed to encourage countries with more sophisticated systems to share technical expertise with other countries, and that will mean a greater role for New Zealand in improving Pacific systems.

"This is a global problem," Johnson said after the debate. "What we are achieving through this resolution is encouraging international civil aviation organisation standards to be applicable across airports around the world and providing the technical assistance that is absolutely invaluable to make that happen."

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Foreign Minister Murray McCully chaired a meeting with British foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to try to get a more global approach to aviation security. Photo / Audrey Young
Foreign Minister Murray McCully chaired a meeting with British foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to try to get a more global approach to aviation security. Photo / Audrey Young

He cited recent attacks at airports in Istanbul and in Brussels and the destruction of passenger jets over Sinai and from Mogadishu.

"The terrorists are constantly think of ways in which they can beat our preventative measures. We have got to be ahead of them and I think that this resolution today is an important step forward in achieving that," Johnson said.

"Air travel is one of the greatest liberators, one of the greatest equalisers that the human race has ever found and this resolution, I think, will help us to continue to enjoy that freedom in safety."

There were more than 100,000 flights each day, enabling 10 million passengers to travel each day, or 3.5 billion passengers a year.

A third of the world's trade by value was transported by air, she said.

Fang Liu, the Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, said the worldwide air transport network would double its capacity of flights and passengers by 2030.

McCully told the council air links were vital to New Zealand. More than 99 per cent of international visitors arrive by air and about 15 per cent of exports are transported by air.

"The security of international civil aviation is therefore of vital importance to my country.

"New Zealand therefore welcomes the focus in today's resolution on international cooperation, including technical assistance. "

It was important for states with limited capacities and lower risk profiles, including the many developing states in the Pacific.

"It does not make sense to expect the same systems and approach from Tuvalu as we do from the United States," McCully said.

But agreeing standards was only the first step.

"The more challenging and important task is ensuring that they are effectively implemented. "

Asked about the security scare last night at Auckland Airport, in which all passengers had to be re-screened, McCully said there were ongoing attempts to upgrade security and improve targeting.

"Today's discussion is a reminder that our part of the world has its own challenges.

"We have a lot of remote airports in the Pacific and we need to ensure the Pacific is adequately catered for. New Zealand has got a particular responsibility there."