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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04FRANKFURT8521
2004-10-01 15:11:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Frankfurt
Cable title:  

FRANKFURT AIRPORT MANAGEMENT DISPUTES MEDIA

Tags:   ASEC  EAIR  PTER  SNAR  GM 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 FRANKFURT 008521 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EB/TRA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2014
TAGS: ASEC EAIR PTER SNAR GM
SUBJECT: FRANKFURT AIRPORT MANAGEMENT DISPUTES MEDIA
REPORTS OF SECURITY LAPSES

REF: FROATS-SILER-TULENKO E-MAIL/MEDIA TRANSCRIPT

(MAY 27)

Classified By: Consul General Peter W. Bodde, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

SUMMARY
--------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 FRANKFURT 008521

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EB/TRA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2014
TAGS: ASEC EAIR PTER SNAR GM
SUBJECT: FRANKFURT AIRPORT MANAGEMENT DISPUTES MEDIA
REPORTS OF SECURITY LAPSES

REF: FROATS-SILER-TULENKO E-MAIL/MEDIA TRANSCRIPT

(MAY 27)

Classified By: Consul General Peter W. Bodde, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

SUMMARY
--------------


1. (C) Over the past few months, German media outlets, on a
number of occasions, have reported negatively on Frankfurt
Airport (Fraport) customs enforcement and its control of
restricted areas. In a meeting with consulate
representatives, senior Fraport officials said the airport is
100-percent secure and blamed the reports on labor disputes.
TSA and DHS-ICE representatives believe that Fraport provides

SIPDIS
fully adequate security. In reaction to the media attention,
Fraport plans to introduce stricter controls on its (over
40,000) identification badges. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) Pol/Econ officer met with Fraport board member and
head of External Relations Volker Zintel and Peter Dienstbach
(Senior Vice President for Traffic and Terminal Management).
Both German interlocutors spoke at length about alleged
security lapses, and Dienstbach indicated he had engaged TSA
representatives in similar discussions.

CUSTOMS CONTROLS: POOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OR LABOR DISPUTE?
-------------- --------------


3. (SBU) In March, German media -- including "Frankfurter
Rundschau" (a left-leaning national daily based in
Frankfurt), "Spiegel" (the leading national news weekly
magazine) and ARD/ZDF (the two largest TV networks) began
reporting on Customs controls at Frankfurt Airport. In those
reports, anonymous customs employees produced internal
documents that purportedly showed customs inspection points
going unmanned for days (even during arrivals from high-risk
regions), claiming that customs management put revenue
collection (duties on cigarettes, alcohol, etc.) and
passenger convenience above intercepting traffickers and
potential terrorists, under the motto "customs officials are
not the police". (NOTE: The German Federal Border Police --
or Bundesgrenzschutz -- which operates under the purview of

the MOI, has primary responsibility for border control,
including at Germany's airports. END NOTE)


4. (C) Fraport interlocutors indicated they understood the
media campaign to be the result of an internal labor dispute
involving competing unions, namely the German Customs and
Finance Union (Deutsche Zoll und Finanzgewerkschaft, which
has traditionally represented airport customs personnel) and
the Police Union GdP (Gewerkschaft der Polizei), which wants
to take over this representation. Zintel (who asked not to
be quoted) implied that leaks to the media and complaints of
understaffing and bad management were part of the Police
Union's aggressive campaign to gain entry to Customs' works
council (labor representation) at the airport.


5. (C) Airport management did note that German Customs
(Zollkriminalamt -- ZKA) at the airport still operates "as
they did 40 years ago", while police at the airport have
modernized considerably. Zintel indicated that Airport
Customs head Hartmut Nessler -- a polarizing figure in
labor-management disputes at airport Customs -- will depart
soon, making way for a new start in the organization.

ALLEGED SECURITY LAPSES
--------------


6. (SBU) In the most recent media expose (ref A), ZDF TV
newsmagazine "Frontal 21" documented (via hidden cameras)
alleged lapses in access controls at Fraport. The video
(provided to TSA) shows hidden-camera footage of reporters in
off-the-shelf uniforms gaining access (on four consecutive
days) to cargo storage, a hangar, and other airfield
locations by following vehicles through gates and walking
through unlocked doors.


7. (C) Our Fraport interlocutors took issue with the media
expose, arguing that reporters falsely claimed to have
penetrated secure airside operations (Fraport says that all
areas shown were company-internal workspaces). Fraport
coordinates security but its carriers and other customers are
responsible for areas under their authority. In one case,
Zintel claimed, someone had apparently lodged open a door the
night before the hidden camera arrived, suggesting a set-up.
Zintel characterized the key witness ZDF used in its report,
an attorney, as someone with a vested interest in claiming
that anyone can go anywhere at the airport. (NOTE: The
attorney in question represents 20 former Fraport employees
convicted in 2003 of participation in a cargo theft ring.
END NOTE.) Dienstbach said that Fraport management had asked
ZDF to amend its report to reflect the above information but
had been unsuccessful. (NOTE: "Frontal 21" has aired a
series of exposes on airport security, including a report
earlier this year on unmanned immigration checkpoints at
Munich Airport that prompted the departure of that airport's
head of Border Police. END NOTE)


8. (C) Fraport representatives insisted that their security
is sound and that the airport complies fully with all
regulations but recognize "areas for further improvement."
Management reviewed its security procedures following the
media reports and found no gaps but established an informal
agenda for improvement, including oversight of the
approximately 40,000 security passes issued so far -- many to
outside contractors and non-airport employees. (NOTE: The
May 2004 expose highlighted a former employee who had
retained a valid Fraport access card a month after his
departure because of his former company's failure to cancel
it in a timely fashion. END NOTE.) In June, Fraport brought
in its subsidiary ICTS Europe (International Consultants on
Targeted Security, one of Europe's leading security
providers) to replace a passenger screening contractor that
had previously serviced much of the airport.

COMMENT
--------------


9. (C) TSA Frankfurt believes that Frankfurt Airport
security is adequate, but has incorporated media reports into
its ongoing inspections of airport facilities and carriers.
While Federal Border Police are the lead agency for airport
security, Frankfurt DHS-ICE notes that customs personnel at
Frankfurt Airport -- as at many European airports -- often
focus on revenue collection more than criminal threats,
including terrorism. Although Customs thinking and focus
have evolved in light of a changing security environment, the
operational transformation is still underway. END COMMENT.
BODDE