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Higher Airport Security Likely

MEDIA RELEASE Monday, October 8, 2001

From the New Zealand Aviation Security Service

Higher Airport Security Likely

Security is likely to be tightened further at New Zealand airports – leading to longer international check-in times – after the attacks on Afghanistan targets today.

“Passengers on flights to the United States, or on US airlines, may have to get to the airport perhaps four or even six hours before departure,” says Aviation Security Service (Avsec) General Manager Mark Everitt. “Additional security measures are likely to include hand-searching of all luggage, and this will add time to the check-in process.”

Mr Everitt says Avsec is working with airlines and airport companies to minimise disruption to travellers and maintain schedules. However, he says he is concerned at the disruption caused by the large number of passengers who are still trying to board planes – mainly domestic flights – with knives, scissors and other sharp objects.

“We have said consistently since September 12, that these items should not be carried on aircraft,” Mr Everitt says. “Yesterday, 397 of these objects were given up by passengers at Auckland Airport alone. That just means longer queues at check-in and screening points.

“The message is clear – don’t take these objects with you to the airport. You will be asked to relinquish them and you’re not going to get them back. And you will not please the other passengers who might be inconvenienced by the delay you cause.

“We at the airports are doing our best to keep things running smoothly, but it does need co-operation from the public.”

Mr Everitt says Avsec officers and the New Zealand Defence Force personnel who have been helping out at airports have responded “brilliantly” to the additional pressures brought about by the attacks on the United States. Staff have had leave deferred and have had to deal with the occasional angry passenger.

“Some people get a bit irate at having to give up their pocket-knife or whatever, but we are simply doing our job to maintain a high level of aviation safety. It’s not always easy – we had a power failure at Auckland Airport’s international terminal yesterday, so all our hold-stow baggage screening had to be carried out by hand.”

Mr Everitt says Avsec is reviewing its procedures regularly to ensure the smooth and safe operation of aviation security, and to respond to changes to threat level assessments as they occur.

ENDS

For more information, please contact:

Mark Everitt

General Manager

Aviation Security Service

Ph: (04) 495-2430

Aviation Security Service, Box 2165, Wellington


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