London Guardian 
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Britain’s leading airline bosses have accused the government of using their industry as a political pawn in the national identity card debate by forcing aviation workers to join the scheme next year.
In a scathing letter to the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, the chief executives of British Airways, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and BMI said that forcing airport workers to have an ID card from November next year was “unnecessary” and “unjustified”.
All airport airside workers, who work in departure areas and on runways, must enrol in the scheme from next year under government plans, but the aviation industry is claiming it will bring no security benefits.
“First and foremost, no additional security benefits have been identified. Indeed, there is a real risk that enrolment in the national ID scheme will be seen to provide an added, but ultimately false, sense of security to our processes,” said the British Air Transport Association (Bata) letter, signed by airline bosses including Willie Walsh of British Airways and Andy Harrison of easyJet.
It also accused the government of singling out the industry for politically motivated reasons, contradicting previous pledges that the scheme would be voluntary.
“This supports our view that the UK aviation industry is being used for political purposes on a project which has questionable public support,” said Bata.
The first wave of the ID card scheme will see the cards becoming compulsory for non-EU foreign nationals living in Britain this year, and for 200,000 airport workers and Olympic security staff from next year.