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All bags now screened at Auckland

All bags now screened at Auckland

New Zealand’s Aviation Security Service is to begin screening baggage of departing international passengers at Auckland Airport from Monday (Nov 21).

The airport, which handles about 70 per cent of New Zealand’s international passenger traffic, is the last major airport to introduce total baggage screening. Previously, Aviation Security Service (Avsec) staff screened only carry-on bags, passengers and checked bags on request from airlines.

The hi-tech X-ray system screens hold baggage as part of the usual baggage handling process, and can deal with about 3000 bags an hour. Nearly 6.5 million international passengers pass through Auckland every year, with half that number departing.

Auckland International Airport Chief Executive Don Huse says the move to full baggage screening will mean less congestion in the check-in area.

“Being able to remove another step from the departure process will be of great benefit to the passenger.”

Avsec General Manager Mark Everitt says the new screening system appears to have been largely unnoticed by passengers throughout the country, mainly because it has worked seamlessly with the usual baggage handling operations. Although Auckland Airport has by far the largest volume of traffic, he is also confident that comprehensive testing and the experience of other airports will mean the new system will operate smoothly at Auckland.

“We’ve had no hold-ups,” Mr Everitt says. “The vast majority of bags move smoothly through the screening process and out to the aircraft without delay. Passengers have not had to arrive any earlier at the airport than they would have previously.”

If Avsec officers do find anything of concern, the passenger will be advised and with their consent the bags will be opened and examined in their presence.

The new security measure is being introduced to ensure New Zealand complies with International Civil Aviation Organisation standards, which come into effect on January 1, 2006. The standards require outbound international flights to have all passenger baggage screened for explosives and other dangerous devices.

ENDS

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