| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Jan 6 The deadly shooting at a Florida
airport on Friday is likely to rekindle an ongoing debate over
whether screening systems should be even more exacting.
But experts say preventing attacks like the one on Friday,
when a gunman opened fire in a baggage claim area at Fort
Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, is almost impossible
given the large public areas at U.S. airports, despite the
billions of dollars spent on security.
"To the extent it was not in a secure area, it doesn't
really identify any issues around airport security," said Robert
Mann, an aviation consultant. "A guy walks into a bar, a guy
walks into an airport baggage claim room - neither of them are
Friday's attack killed five people and injured at least
eight, authorities said.
Security at most major airports worldwide is generally
focused on protecting aircraft from potential attackers and
deadly devices, rather than the airports themselves. As a
result, much of the space at terminals is easily accessible to
the public, with no formal screening before passengers go
through checkpoints to get to their departure gates.
The debate over whether to extend security screening to
public areas intensified following the bombings inside a
terminal at Brussels Airport in March 2016, which killed 32
people and injured hundreds.
Some critics have cited as a model Israel's Ben Gurion
Airport, where private security companies trained by the
national security agency Shin Bet and backed by police officers
profile passengers, question individual travelers and use bomb
detectors at the airport's entrance.
But experts say that approach has drawbacks, possibly just
shifting the target to another part of the airport.
"It is logistically impractical to try to protect these
areas, unfortunately, and the reason is no matter how far you
move the boundary out, you will always have some sort of soft
target area," Henry Harteveldt, an airline industry analyst,
The cost of implementing that type of screening would also
be prohibitive, given the number of major U.S. airports.
In response to the Florida shooting, law enforcement
agencies at several U.S. airports said they beefed up security
presence, including in Chicago and New York.
Friday's shooting, in which the gunman apparently retrieved
a checked gun from his luggage, loaded it in a bathroom and then
opened fire, could prompt debate about whether travelers should
be permitted to stow guns in checked bags, Harteveldt said.
Addressing one potential danger often simply creates an
opportunity for another type of threat, Mann said.
"It's essentially whack-a-mole," Mann said. "That's what
security has always been."
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Jeffrey
Dastin; Editing by Daniel Wallis and)