Monday, July 9, 2007

NZ airports test for explosives - NZ Herald story...

Good story below - compliments of the NZ Herald:

NZ airports to test flyers for explosives
Page 1 of 2 View as a single page 5:00AM Monday July 09, 2007
By David Eames
NZ Herald

New security measures are planned for New Zealand airports. Photo / Kenny Rodger
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Passengers at New Zealand airports will be tested for explosives, and security officers are set to be given new sweeping search and seizure powers. "Trace detection" testing will see passengers routinely taken at random and tested for traces of explosives on their carry-on bags, and documents.

The measure - initially planned only for US-bound flights - is expected to be in place for all international passengers by August 1.

And it is understood Air New Zealand has also investigated fitting its fleet of 747-200 and 767-300 aircraft with security camera systems that would allow the flight crew to monitor passengers.

Aviation Security Service general manager Mark Everitt yesterday told the Herald trace detection testing - already employed overseas - would involve "continuous random testing" and would not delay flight departure times.

About 10 million people are expected to go through some type of security screening at New Zealand's airports this financial year, and it was important the testing required "minimal intervention ... because that's why we like living in New Zealand", he said.

AdvertisementThe test will be able to identify the exact type of explosive.

Mr Everitt said he was satisfied the innovations were sufficient to meet "the current safety threat", which had not changed in the past week, despite the failed terrorist attacks in London and at Glasgow Airport and links to doctors in Australia.

A tender process has been run, and the cost of the service - which Mr Everitt described as commercially sensitive - would be covered by existing national and domestic levies.

The move is the latest in a series of security features implemented in the past 18 months to fulfil New Zealand's international security obligations.

Other measures include the routine screening of all hold baggage from January 1 last year and the compulsory plastic bagging of liquid aerosols and gels from March 31 this year.

There has also been an increase in the number of explosives sniffer dogs on duty in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch since their introduction about 10 years ago, Mr Everitt said.

"The dog's nose will tell us there's an explosive, the baggage detection will tell us there's a bomb, and the trace detection will tell us what type of explosive."

And airport staff could be in for as tough a time as passengers under legislation due for a second reading in Parliament.

Changes to aviation security laws could see the background screening and searching of airport employees, security staff given the power to order the removal of outer garments during passenger searches, and a requirement airlines not carry anyone refusing to be searched.

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