An Interview with Ronald Augustin, Deputy Senior Vice President Security Services, KLM
Q: Ronald, could you start by telling us something about your role and about KLM Royal Dutch Airlines?
A: I have been with KLM since 1996 and I am currently Deputy Senior Vice President Security Services. I’m also a member of the Air France KLM Security Management Team.
KLM celebrated its 96th birthday this year – we’re the oldest airline in the world flying under its original name – although we‘ve been part of the AIR FRANCE KLM group since the merger in 2004. We carry some 30 million passengers a year on a fleet of 200 aircraft to over 150 destinations on 5 continents and we have approximately 32,000 employees.
Q: What can you say about the presentation you’ll be giving at the Transport Security Expo conference?
A: The title is The Threat Horizon – An Airline’s View and there are five main subject areas that I want to cover. First is the ever-present risk of terrorism. Whilst it’s true in one sense that the better your security, the safer you are, it’s also true that strengthening security procedures increases the motivation of terrorists to find a way around them. At KLM, we realise people move about simply to see how our systems are working. So we need to have our defences in place all the time.
Second, I want to consider the consequences of the worldwide unrest and the economic backlash, especially in Africa and the Middle East but also in the BRIC countries and, related to that, I will also be looking at the mass movement of refugees and others. What we are seeing now, with large numbers of people travelling overland is the second or third wave of this migration but at KLM, starting about two years ago, we began experiencing the first wave with people from Syria and Iraq travelling to places like Turkey and China and then trying to fly to Amsterdam and other destinations in Europe with fake passports and fake visas. We were able to identify them before they boarded our planes but with more and more people attempting to travel around the world with false documentation, it’s a problem that airlines have to be constantly aware of.
Next, I’ll be assessing how we can analyse and overcome the risks of flying over conflict zones and finally, I’ll be considering cyber security. ‘Cyber’ has become something of an emotive term because the general public, and even some of those on top public and private positions, don’t really know what it means or what the implications are – and that creates an atmosphere of fear.
Personally, I believe it is a problem but not any bigger than the other problems we face. At KLM, we recently modelled a threat landscape, looking at the different digital threats we needed to address. Essentially, you have to decide to what extent you want to secure yourself. At one level, that’s not too difficult but at the other extreme, high level digital espionage for example, no single private organisation can protect against it.
Q: Who would you like to see in your audience?
A: I think that what I have to say will be of interest to a wide range of people but I would particularly like to see senior security professionals from across the aviation industry as well as government representatives. I hope it will also be an opportunity to open a good dialogue on the subject after the presentation.
Q. Why have you chosen to speak at Transport Security Expo specifically?
A: We can’t cover all of the security shows all the time, so we tend to be selective. In our view, Transport Security Expo is a particularly good exhibition which is down to the professionalism of the organisers and the visitors and delegates it attracts from around the world. We have also found in the past that the conference speakers have always been very interesting.
Ronald Augustin, Deputy Senior Vice President Security Services, KLM will be speaking at Transport Security Expo:
AVIATION SECURITY CONFERENCE
DAY 1: WEDNESDAY 2 DECEMBER