What the airport identity card (AIC) is for

The airport identity card is a key security control at ‘Tier One’ airports – Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Dunedin, and Invercargill. The card is evidence that the holder is allowed to be inside the security or security-enhanced (‘airside’) areas of those airports.

If you have one, you’ll know that the application process included your details being checked by the Ministry of Justice and the Security Intelligence Service. This means you’ve received a favourable security check ‘determination’ and you’re not considered to be a threat to civil aviation in New Zealand.

Escorting temporary AIC-holders

Being an AIC-holder brings certain responsibilities. One of those surrounds escorting people who have a temporary AIC. A temporary AIC-holder may work at the airport for only a short time, so they’ve not had the security checks that a permanent AIC-holder has had.

Those people must be escorted by a permanent AIC-holder when they’re airside. That means ‘direct supervision’-escorted, not ‘I’ll meet you over there in a few minutes’-escorted. (The supervision can, however, be transferred from one permanent AIC-holder to another).

“It’s important that complacency doesn’t creep in – the belief that it doesn’t really matter about escorting a temporary AIC-holder,” says CAA security regulatory manager David Willing. “It does matter, and in this, the International Year of Security Culture, we want to encourage AIC-holders in being aware that anyone wanting to do harm may well be watching and learning and planning to take advantage of any casualness in procedures.”

Make it visible

If you’re entering an airside area you must display your AIC on your outer clothes. This can be on a lanyard, clipped to your outer clothing, or in an armband. But it must be visible to others.

If you’re not wearing your AIC or you’re not wearing it so it’s obvious, an aviation security (AvSec) officer has the right (s84, Civil Aviation Act 1990) to ask you to produce it so they can examine it. They may ask you – and you must comply – to also provide your name, address, why you’re airside, and your authority to enter.

“Displaying your AIC and/or temporary AIC is more than just a rule requirement,” says David Willing. “It lets others around you know that you’ve undergone the appropriate security checks and you’re not a risk to civil aviation. If an AIC cannot be seen, then you can expect to be challenged, not just by AvSec, but by anyone who wants to ensure the security and safety of the airport.”

If someone fails, or refuses, to provide the AvSec officer with evidence of their identity or their reason for being airside, the officer can order them to leave that area. If the person then fails, or refuses, to leave, and having been warned they’re committing an offence, the officer may remove the person, using “such force as may be reasonably necessary”, or detain them and deliver them to the police.

Know what to do

You must know ahead of time what to do – according to your particular airport’s procedures – if you see someone airside who doesn’t appear to have an identity card worn obviously, or who has a temporary identity card but isn’t being escorted.

In particular, you should know who to report this to. Have a chat with the AvSec team at your airport about what they would like to you to do in this situation.

And airport managers – you must make sure your people know the steps they can take in challenging someone who doesn’t have an AIC, or who may have just tailgated someone else accessing an airside area.

Limits on its use

Wearing an AIC doesn’t mean you can be anywhere in the airport at any time for any reason. It doesn’t, for instance, allow you to be airside for anything other than your official duties.

It also doesn’t mean you can meet or farewell family or friends airside (including the departure lounge) or do any other personal business there.

And finally, you can’t keep the AIC for life. When you leave your airport-based job, you must return the card to your employer.