20 Feb 2009

Tougher airport security 'costly'

9:10 am on 20 February 2009

Some regional airports are worried about the cost of beefed-up security checks for passengers on domestic flights.

A Ministry of Transport review of airport security, released on Thursday recommends it be boosted by screening all domestic passengers flying on planes with 19 seats or more.

At present all passengers on planes of 90 seats or more are screened.

The review was carried out after the attempted hijacking of a 19-seater flight bound from Blenheim to Christchurch a year ago.

If adopted, the measures would see an extra 6.5 million passengers screened and add about $5 to every ticket price.

Oamaru Airport spokesperson, Michael Ross, says the safety suggestion has gone overboard and further costs are likely to affect the airport's service.

Matt Todd from Gisborne Airport says compliance costs would be significant.

Auckland International Airport chief operating officer Tony Gollin says the extra screening would raise logistical problems and costs that some provincial airports may not be able to afford.

He says space and capacity for is needed for screening machines, aviation security staff are required as are changes to baggage handling systems.

The Aviation Security Association says the review found passengers carrying weapons pose less risk than those who are mentally ill or using drugs, and they wouldn't be detected by screening.

But the Airline Pilots Association says it's necessary to deal with the prevalence of drugs and weapons in society.

Pacific Blue and Qantas say the measures would not affect them because they operate planes that are already subject to security screening.