The trade has
been warned Al Qaeda is actively planning terrorist attacks against UK
travellers at home and overseas.

Former
Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard editor Sir Max Hastings told ABTA
delegates an attack is likely against Britons overseas and that fears persist
within Government that a missile attack will be launched on an aircraft in the
UK.

He
said terrorism against the West is the new reality the industry must face up to
but added there was little the security services could do in the face of such a
threat.

“Putting
tanks around airports is a symbolic gesture. It is not realistic to believe governments
can protect aircraft if terrorists get near them,” said Hastings.

While
security had to be tightened after the September 11 attacks, Hastings said the
aviation industry could do more to protect passengers from the “pain and indignity”
of security checks.

He
said: “Travellers aren’t discouraged by the threat of terrorism but they are
discouraged by the hassle and the indignity of having to eat with plastic
knives and forks.”

Hastings
described how he was frisked twice before boarding his flight to Palma for the
convention and said new personal search techniques should be adopted to ease
the path of passengers through UK airports.

“Coming
through Heathrow last week was a Third World experience,” he said.