Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heathrow Terminal 5 Set for Second Day of Delays

The second day of Heathrow Terminal 5’s public use is expected to bring with it more delays after a catastrophic opening day.

As Airport International yesterday reported, by late afternoon, all luggage check-in was suspended after the new terminal’s hi-tech baggage system broke down.

As these words were written, further chaos was anticipated. So far today, over 30 departing flights have been cancelled, while passenger queues are mounting up.

Reduced Flights from Terminal 5

British Airways has stated that, today, it plans to run a reduced service of just 80 per cent of flights from Terminal 5: according to its website, 36 departures due to leave on the 28th March have been scrubbed.

At present, British Airways is the only airline using Heathrow Terminal 5. In response to yesterday’s problems, it says additional staff have been drafted in, and discussions have been taking place to try and suppress the complications that marred Terminal 5’s first day of business.

A number of travellers ended up sleeping in the terminal last night.

In a statement issued yesterday, British Airways offered its apologies to those affected by the delays.

"We would like to apologise to passengers for any disruption to their flights”, it said.

“ [The delays are] not unexpected following one of the most complex and largest airport moves in history".

Willie Walsh, BA’s Chief Executive, added: "I am very sorry that the problems have meant that some of our customers did not experience the true potential of this amazing new building."

The airline has instructed passengers to keep an eye on its website ( for updated information.
36 Cancelled BA Flights

According to a BA spokesman, today’s 36 cancelled flights are not long-haul services, and alternative flights to the same destinations will be available.

Those travellers unable to leave Terminal 5 yesterday were offered accommodation expense payments of £100. However, reports have come in that some hotels around the Heathrow area were charging as much as double this amount.

David Wilshire, Conservative MP, has spoken of the issue of whether British Airways, or airport operating group BAA, is culpable for Terminal 5’s chaos.

“The problem is getting to the real truth of this”, he said.

"'Not my fault, guv, maybe his fault guv' is, I think, a bit of the problem. And we won't get to the bottom of this until we know a bit more. What we have to find out is why this has happened and make sure it's put right and hope that this is really a starting glitch.

“People have been let down, let's be honest about it."

Source – Airport International’s London Reporter


Baggage 'Chaos' at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

he first day of operation of Heathrow Airport's brand new Terminal 5 has descended into what has been described as "chaos", after problems with the terminal's baggage system caused numerous flight cancellations and delays.

Late on Thursday afternoon, all luggage check-in at the flagship new facility was suspended after a day when thousands of passengers faced hours of delays following the breakdown of the terminal's sophisticated baggage system.

According to a statement released by British Airways, the terminal's exclusive user, the terminal's baggage belt broke down and passengers were forced to manually check-in their bags.

This failure resulted in over 30 flights being cancelled, and delays of up to four hours for passengers using the airport. It was reported that some passengers' baggage had gone missing.

BA said more flights could be cancelled through Thursday evening as the knock-on effect of the problems was felt.

It was reported that only three flights would depart from the terminal on Thursday evening, due to the extent of the delays.

The airline's statement said they were experiencing "teething problems". In addition to the baggage belt problem, the company said there were also issues with "staff familiarisation" that were also contributing to the delays.
Heathrow Terminal 5 'Mayhem'

The day started well enough - with the first arrival and departure taking place early in the morning on schedule.

However, problems soon started to mount up.

As early in the day as 0830 GMT, passengers were facing delays. Passengers on flights from the German cities of Frankfurt and Hamburg had to wait two hours to collect their baggage.

According to the BBC, this morning staff operating the baggage system could not log-in to the computers to allow them to operate the system. The BA statement also said that staff confusion with the layout of the new terminal contributed to the delays.

Subsequently, the "fast-drop" baggage belt system - which allows T5 passengers to check their own bags in - itself suffered a breakdown, which led to a backlog in the terminal's main baggage system. This was what led to BA suspending the check-in process late on Thursday afternoon.

One baggage worker told news agencies that there was "mayhem" at the terminal throughout the day.
The problems caused many domestic flights to be cancelled, as well as delays or cancellations to short-haul destinations such as Paris, Munich and Brussels. One flight to Los Angeles, which should have departed at 1005 GMT, was still waiting for its baggage to be loaded three hours later.

Some media agencies were also reporting that there were problems with paying at a car park, as well as a broken down escalator.
British Airways Apology to Terminal 5 Passengers

BA apologised profusely to passengers caught up in the Terminal 5 delays.

The airline said: "We would like to apologise to passengers for any disruption to their flights. [The delays are] not unexpected following one of the most complex and largest airport moves in history".

The chaotic opening day, and resulting bad publicity, will be viewed as embarrassing for both British Airways and BAA, who prior to the terminal's opening both made great play that the passenger facilties on offer at T5 would represent a sea change in the customer experience on offer at Heathrow, which in recent years has developed a reputation for long delays.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


Baggage Delays As Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 Opens

Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 opened to air passengers on schedule early in the morning of Thursday 27th March.

The first aircraft to land at the new £4.3 billion terminal, which is used exclusively by British Airways, was Flight BA026 from Hong Kong. The aircraft landed on time at 0450 GMT - and its pilot was Capt Lynn Barton, who back in 1987 made history as BA's first female airline pilot.

The first departure from the airport was at 0620 GMT with a flight to Paris.

However, the flagship terminal's opening day of operations was marred by significant baggage delays.

Despite BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh's message to the assembled media that Terminal 5 had a "state of the art baggage system", the airline confirmed towards midday on Thursday that this system was subject to delays.

Reports of delays began to surface during the morning. Passengers on a Frankfurt flight which arrived at 0830 GMT had to wait two hours to collect their belongings. One passenger on this flight, Jenny Uhl, commented: "The terminal looks nice, but the bag situation is not good".

Henrik Moeller, a businessman who had arrived from Hamburg in Germany, told assembled media reporters although his flight landed on schedule 0745 GMT but he did not receive his bags until 0900 GMT. He said: "It's obvious there have been teething problems".

BA made a public address announcement just before 11am saying that there were delays to baggage collection due to a technical problem. The airline also said that there were also issues with "staff familiarisation".

Both BA and the airport operator have admitted that it will take time for operations at such a large terminal to "bed down".

T5's opening day also saw several hundred anti-airport expansion campaigners and environmental groups a a peaceful "flash mob" protest outside the terminal. Wearing red T-shirts with the slogan "Stop Airport Expansion", one of the campaigners said their protest was "not not a demonstration against T5 so much as against what T5 means and that is extra flights, as many as 80,000 a year at Heathrow".
T5 Opening Marks New Era for Heathrow

Terminal 5, designed by eminent British architect Richard Rogers, was formally opened by HM The Queen earlier this month. Up to 30 million passengers will pass through the facility each year, with 12,000 bags an hour being processed.

Both BA and Heathrow's operator, the British Airports Authority (BAA), are hoping that T5's passenger facilities will help introduce a new era at Heathrow, and help to repair the airport's reputation as a crowded airport marred by delays. Earlier this week, a major consumer survey revealed international air passengers rate Heathrow poorly for making international connections.

Certainly, both parties have worked hard to develop high-quality retail and food facilities - there are over 112 shops and restaurants in the terminal.

Architect Rogers, who also designed the second terminal at Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain that was opened in 2006, commented: "We wanted to make the experience of being in an airport exciting. We wanted to capture the spirit of travel. The greatest stations, whether it is New York or London, the 19th century stations did exactly that".

The opening of T5 means that the vast majority of BA flights to and from Heathrow will now be centralised on one terminal, instead of being spread around the airport's other four terminals.

All domestic BA flights to and from Heathrow have now moved to T5 from Terminal 1, as well as the long-haul services flown by the airline from T1.

At the end of April, most of BA's long-haul flights currently operated from Terminal 4 will be moved to T5. The only exceptions will be Singapore, Bangkok and Sydney, which will move from T4 to Terminal 3 early next year.

Other airlines will be changing terminals in line with the consolidation of BA services onto T5. As previously reported by this website, flights at the other four terminals will now be organised according to which alliance airlines belong.
Terminal 5 Security Fingerprinting Plan On Hold

Meanwhile, the plan by BAA to collect fingerprints from passengers using T5 as part of the terminal's security suite has been put on hold.

As reported ealier this week on Airport International the UK's privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office, said BAA's plan to collect four fingerprints from all domestic passengers using T5 and those international passengers transferring onto domestic flights, could be illegal due to breaking clauses in the Data Protection Act.

Now, BAA has climbed down. A spokesman for the company said: "Following a meeting with all relevant parties, including the Information Commissioner and the Border and Immigration Agency, the introduction of fingerprinting for domestic passengers and international passengers transferring on to domestic flights at Heathrow will be temporarily delayed".

Further discussions between authorities to establish the legality of the plan will now take place. BAA insists that despite the postponement, it still wishes to introduce the plans.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


BA Chief Executive in Heathrow Terminal 5 Apology

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways, has referred to Heathrow Airport Terminal 5’s first day of business as “not our finest hour”.

The opening day saw chaos erupt as a suspension was placed on hold-luggage, 34 flights were cancelled and waits of up to four hours were experienced in baggage reclaim.

Today, 36 flights have been cancelled. Additional cancellations are anticipated to be made in the hours to come.

British Airways’ Reputation

Walsh conceded that the situation had had an effect both on British Airways’ reputation, and on the nation at large.

“We clearly disappointed a number of people and we sincerely apologise", he said.

The disruption, he said, had its source in a “combination of factors” that the airline had not been able to “get on top of”.

"British Airways has not delivered and we need to deliver," he asserted.

"I am accepting responsibility, the buck stops with me."

"Today has started much better...[but] at this stage I still expect some cancellations tomorrow".
Terminal 5 Check-in Restrictions Lifted

British Airways' website details how, in respect of departing services on the 28th March, 36 had been cancelled. However, the check-in restrictions have been lifted.

Other issues that emerged during Heathrow Terminal 5’s opening day included what BA termed “initial teething problems” in respect of car parking spaces, as well as staff unfamiliarity.

Speaking to the BBC, one baggage worker described how what should have been a glorious occasion "turned into a shambles the moment the doors opened".

He continued: "BA claimed 'staff familiarisation' was to blame. The staff, however, would blame the lack of training and the essential support that was promised.

"During the inadequate training days prior to the opening, any staff questions were bounced back with 'I don't know' and 'It will be clear on the day'.

"Staff signage is non-existent and quite frankly, how are we expected to help customers if we are not helped first?"

As far as the British Chamber of Commerce’s director general, David Frost, was concerned, the situation had issued “businesses around the world” with a “depressing message”.

"This is a PR disaster at a time when London and the UK are positioning themselves as global players”, he said.

“We can only hope that this will provide a wake-up call as we gear ourselves up to host the Olympics in 2012."

Source – Airport International’s London Reporter


Baggage System 'Working' at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5

British Airways has said that the baggage handling system at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 is now "working".

The announcement by the airline's chief executive, Willie Walsh, follows a chaotic few days at the brand new terminal building.

As reported extensively by this website, since the terminal opened on Thursday 27th March there have been major technical difficulties with the terminal's baggage handling system - which led to thousands of bags being stranded across the five terminals at Heathrow, and significant flight cancellations and delays.

Walsh said over 400 volunteers were working to clear the baggage backlog. He said the baggage system was now "working well", and that "we are making every effort to reunite bags with their owners".

However, a government statement issued to the House of Commons from the Department of Transport on Monday afternoon said some passengers could face up to a week's delay in being reunited with their bags. Jim Fitzpatrick, the Transport Minister, said that over 28,000 bags were now backed-up at Heathrow - higher than the 15,000 figure quoted originally.

BA said the affected bags belonged to passengers who had already used the airport, and that it "is not affecting the day-to-day operation of the baggage system".

The airline's boss once again gave profuse apologies to passengers caught up in the delays, saying: "the service we provided has not been good enough".

Walsh said that engineering and IT teams from BA and airport operator the British Airports Authority (BAA), were continuing to work on the technical problem which has been the major cause of the delays.
He admitted that the six-month trial of the baggage system had not revealed the specific problem that had caused the delays.
Terminal Five Cancellations Latest

BA announced that on Monday 31st March the airline will be operating "87% of the T5 schedule", meaning 54 flights would be cancelled. The same number will be cancelled tomorrow, Tuesday 1st April.

As in the last few days, the flight cancellations affect short-haul flights. BA said no long-haul flights from
BA says it hopes to "progressively" introduce flights throughout this week as the situation eases, with a full programme of flights being launched.

Airport International advises passengers using T5 to check the BAA Heathrow website or the British Airways website ( to keep up to date with the latest flight information details.

Reports in UK newspapers suggest that the delays could have cost BA up to £20 million ($40 million) over the last four days.

Mr Walsh was still confident that the embarrassments suffered by BA in the last few days would be "overcome", and that "the terminal will be highly valued by customers in the near future and for many years to come".

He said: "We are sorry for the disruption and inconvenience caused to customers whose flights have been cancelled or whose bags have been delayed. We will not rest until our service has been restored to the high standard customers rightly expect".
Heathrow T5 Criticism Continues

As would be expected, criticism of Terminal 5 has been wide-ranging and severe among commentators in the UK media over the weekend.

Politicians have also weighed in with their views. David Davis, the Conservative Party's Shadow Home Secretary, said Terminal 5 was "a dreadful national embarrassment". Chris Huhne, Home Affairs Spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said the last few days had proven to be an "incredible shambles".

The government, meanwhile, said on Monday afternoon that although the operation of T5 was an issue for BA and BAA, it was "monitoring the situation" and would be "ready to assist" if BA and BAA were unable to solve the baggage situation at T5 this week. Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick admitted that "national pride had been dented".

Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, said: "Everything possible must be done to deliver a better service for passengers who are unfortunately still facing disruption and delays to their journeys".

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


Flight Cancellations at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5

Flight cancellations are continuing at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 after further technical problems with the facility's baggage system, and adverse weather over the weekend.

At the end of last week, British Airways - which is the exclusive user of the £4.3 billion terminal - announced it was planning, for the first time, to operate a full schedule of services from the terminal over the weekend, after nine days of extensive delays and cancellations since the terminal opened on 27th March.

However, a glitch in the automated baggage system on Saturday caused the cancellation of 24 flights, while heavy snow in southern England on on Sunday caused 144 flights into and out of T5 to be cancelled.

Today, Monday 7th April, there are 34 flights from T5 which have been cancelled as a result of the delays experienced over the weekend.

Airport International advises passengers using Heathrow today to check the British Airways website or the Heathrow Airport flight information website for the very latest updates:

Heathrow Airport Flight Information

Snow Causes Heathrow Flight Delays

A British Airways spokesman said that the cancellations and delays on Monday were not caused by the baggage system, but simply by the effect of the snow yesterday.

During Sunday morning, both runways at Heathrow were shut down for 20 minutes at different times so the accumulated snow and ice could be cleared, and aircraft de-iced.

The BA spokesman said: "The [cancellations are] simply because of the weather yesterday...there were a number of aircraft that were out of position which means that had a knock-on effect with the schedule today".

On Saturday, the baggage system - which has been one of the causes in the delays which has seen hundreds of flights cancelled and thousands of bags go missing - suffered a software glitch.

This problem was eventually rectified by engineers from the airport's operator, the British Airports Authority (BAA), which operates the baggage system.

BA said it was "incredibly disappointing" that it could not operate its full schedule of services, after it had announced at the end of last week that it was planning to do so.
Terminal 5 Problems Blamed on BAA

As cancellations and delays continue, a leading union official representing BA ground staff has blamed the problems experienced at Terminal 5 on BAA.

Mick Rix, the national officer for transport at the GMB union, told the Daily Mail: "The true story has not come out. My members who are down there working - double shifts in many cases - know exactly who is responsible for this mess and humiliation. I'm not saying that BA was faultless, but the real and fundamental problems are down to BAA".

He added: "Who is responsible for security? BAA. Who was responsible for lifts? BAA. Who was responsible for the public address system going down? BAA. Who was responsible for the leaking toilets in club class lounges? BAA. And most important of all, who is responsible for the baggage system? BAA".

Contrasting to this, over the weekend the airline pilots' union Balpa repeated its criticism of British Airways that it first voiced last week.

Jim McAuslan, Balpa's general secretary, said that BA has become a "laughing stock" due to T5. It said the problems at the new terminal showed that the company "needs to have a different approach to management", especially in its dealings with staff.

Balpa is currently in dispute with BA over the airline's plan to hire pilots to staff its new subsidiary, OpenSkies. Balpa says that the new employees will have inferior terms to mainline BA pilots.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


BA Announces Heathrow T5 Long-Haul Flights Delayed

British Airways has delayed relocating the majority of its long-haul flights to London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 for two months, the airline announced today.

Since opening, Terminal 5 has suffered a number of problems, particularly those related to its hi-tech baggage system.

Speaking on the 11th April, British Airways’ Chief Executive Willie Walsh explained the delay in moving the airline’s long-haul services.

"It is only sensible to ensure that Terminal 5 is operating consistently at a high standard before the move begins”, he said.

Under previous plans, long haul BA flights, which are currently flown from Terminal 4, were scheduled to start operating from the new terminal on April 30th.

BA/ BAA Passenger Statement

In a combined statement, BA, along with Heathrow’s owner, airport operating group BAA, told passengers affected by the terminal move that contact would be made with them soon.

"While a normal flight schedule has been operated at Terminal 5 since Tuesday, we want to ensure that customers can be confident of high service standards when additional flights are introduced”, the statement said.

"We will work together to iron out any remaining problems, including the baggage system and its operation, and develop a robust timescale for phasing the move of Terminal 4 services into Terminal 5."

BA’s Walsh added that the move was one made "in the interests of customers".

"Though Terminal 5 is now working well, we need to have confidence that good service can be maintained when the terminal is handling larger numbers of customers", he said.

Colin Matthews, chief executive of the group, stated: "BAA fully recognises that the inauguration of Terminal Five has not been as smooth as we and BA would have wished."

He added: "BAA regrets this postponement and we recognise the impact it has on other airlines.”

Terminal 5 opened for business on the 27th March. In the immediate days thereafter, hundreds of flights were cancelled.

BA recently put the associated cost of the Terminal 5 chaos at £16 million and counting.

Referring to the decision to delay transferring long-haul flights over from Terminal 4, the GMB union’s Paul Kenny described it as a “sensible move” that “ time to make sure everything works smoothly."

Source – Airport International’s London Reporter


Airlines Complain at Heathrow Airport Terminal Moves

Major airlines operating from London Heathrow Airport have complained about their treatment by the airport's operator.

Several airlines believe they are going to be placed "at a competitve disadvantage" by the British Airports Authority (BAA), because of forthcoming changes in the way the airport is organised.

From the end of next month British Airways will be centralising most of its Heathrow operations into the new, long-awaited Terminal 5. At the same time, Terminal 2 and The Queen's Building will be closed ahead of demolition to prepare for the new Heathrow East Terminal.

This has led to BAA undertaking a major reconfiguration of where airlines operate from at the airport, based around the alliance each airline belongs to.

As a result, over the next 12 months over half of the airlines operating into Heathrow are having to move their arrival and departure points to different terminals.

This, together with the fact that some operators will be using older facilities than they using at the moment, has angered many airlines.
Airlines Change Terminals at Heathrow

Under the plans, airlines across Heathrow will be changing terminals. Airlines belonging to the Star Alliance (including bmi, Lufhansa and United) will be moving to Terminal 1. Terminal 3 will host the members of the Oneworld alliance (such as American Airlines and Cathay Pacific). Meanwhile, Terminal 4 will be reserved for SkyTeam alliance members (including Air France-KLM) and those airlines not affiliated to an alliance.

Airline executives have not been shy in voicing their feelings over the nature of the changes.

Some believe BAA has given preferential treatment to BA with T5 at the expense of other airlines, and that other carriers at Heathrow will suffer as a result of operating from the older terminals.

A spokesman for bmi said: "We expect the same kind of investment and facilities that BA are enjoying."

Airlines have been further angered by the fact that they are not going to receive financial discounts from BAA to help assist with moving their operations around the airport - while at the same time, British Airways is not being charged a premium by BAA to use the new facilities at T5.

One un-named airline boss commented: "Because it is the UK flag carrier, BA get things handed to it on a plate."
Heathrow East Project Delayed

The airlines' view of Heathrow Airport's operator has not been improved by the news that the Heathrow East project is being delayed.

The new £1.5 billion facility - which in addition to replacing Terminal 2 and The Queen's Building, will also replace Terminal 1 - is, according to press reports, now running between six and 15 months behind schedule, meaning it is not likely to be open in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games. It had been BAA's intention to have Heathrow East operational in time for the Games.

Some airlines have said this delay worsens their position. Those operating from Terminal 1, which will be right next to the construction work, claim that they will effectively operating out of a building site. They say this will do nothing to improve their image with customers, especially when compared to the facilities BA is receiving with T5.

BAA refuted the airlines' claims, saying airlines would benefit from the changes by allowing them to work more closely with their alliance partners.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


Photos/ Fingerprints Increase Japan's Border Security

Japan's new security measures include biometric scans

Japan has become the second nation to introduce a security programme of photographic and biometric identification for all those entering the country.

The US was the first country to take fingerprints and photographs of inbound foreigners. However, while the US measure is purely restricted to foreign visitors, Japan now requires foreign people living in it to undergo the security checks on each occasion they enter the country.

The fingerprints taken will be compared alongside the records of individuals that Japan has deported. Additionally, they will be cross-analysed with over 800,000 bits of data in respect of suspects sought both by Interpol, and by authorities in Japan itself.

New Security Measures Designed to Counter Terrorism, Says Japan

While the government in Japan describes the measure as counter-terroristic, and aimed at reducing crime, some say it is discriminatory.

Groups campaigning for human rights say that the new security measures are a violation of privacy, and could potentially fuel xenophobic attitudes. They add that, by implication, foreigners are the ones judged to be most associable with terrorism or other infringements of the law.

To date, no acts of terror involving foreigners have been carried out in Japan. Indeed, Japanese nationals were involved in incidents such as the Tokyo subway gas attacks.

Further concerns regarding the measures relate to the sharing of data with other immigration bodies overseas.

Japan's Foreign Population Angered by Biometric/Photographic Measures

Meanwhile, foreigners in possession of visas entitling them to reside in Japan have also been angered by the photographic and biometric security demands - saying that no difference now exists at this level between them and those visiting the nation.

Japan maintains that such security is necessary to assist with blocking the entry into the country of terrorists.

Tokyo has been a solid supporter of the invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan. This, in itself, has raised fears that terrorists could have Japan in their sights.

Source - Security International's Far East Correspondent


Foreign Visitors to Give More Biometric Data at US Airports

In an effort to boost security, foreign visitors to the United States must now provide extra biometric identification data when they arrive in the country.

All non-US citizens between the ages of 14 and 79 are now required to leave ten digital fingerprints, instead of two, and a photograph when they arrive at US airports or apply for a visa.

Washington Dulles International Airport was the first airport to introduce the new measure, on November 29. Over the coming months nine other major US hubs will introduce the scheme, with the remaining 278 airports following during the course of next year. It is planned that all US airports will have the system in place by the end of 2008.

Data Will Improve Airport Security

The scheme involves people's fingerprints and photograph being matched against a list containing the details of known or suspected terroritsts, people who have broken immigration laws and criminals on the run.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) believes the enhanced biometric technology will enable security at US airports to be significantly improved.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff commented: "Anyone who has watched the news or seen crimes solved on television shows can appreciate the power of biometrics".

"Biometrics tell the story that the unknown terrorist tries to conceal and it causes them to question whether they've ever left a print behind," he continued.

Chertoff added that the enahnced technology will also improve efficiences at immigration control at US airports. He said: "They help the legitimate traveller proceed more quickly while protecting their identity and enable our frontline personnel to focus even greater attention on potential security risks".

Source - Airport International's US Correspondent


Security Screening for US Airport Workers

Airport employees around the US are to face more intensive security screening from this summer.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is launching a 3-month trial which will test more rigorous security screening measures for airport staff working on airside operations.

All workers at seven airports - including Boston, Denver and Kansas City - will be subject to the new screening programme, which will vary according to the airport location.

The programme, lasting for 90 days from May to August, will affect over 53,000 airport employees.

Biometric Access Control System for Airport Employees

At Boston's Logan International Airport, airport employees will be subjected to what the TSA calls "100 Percent Perimeter Screening".

This involves each and every employee passing to airside being physically checked, and a biometric access control system being used that will electronically scan employees' fingerprints and irises against a database to verify their identity.

The biometric system will also be used at Denver Airport.

At the other five airports - Kansas City, Jacksonville, New Bern, Eugene, North Bend - the security measures will include a mix of mandatory physical screening, random spot checks using deployable screening equipment, and improvements to security awareness training programmes for airport staff. The biometric system is not going to be be used at these other airports.
Airside Operations Security

The programme, costing $15 million, was approved by Congress last year and is designed to help the TSA find the best means of improving airside operations security.

The TSA has to report back to Congress before 1st September 2008, after the trial period has ended, presenting the effectiveness of the test programmes.

Depending on the results of the programme, Congress will make recommendations about the type of airside security measures which could in future be rolled out across all US airports.

Source - Airport International's US Correspondent


High Security Staff Turnover at US Airports

US airports are suffering from a high turnover of security staff working at security checkpoints.

According to USA Today, one-in-five security staff are leaving their jobs on an annual basis - despite a much-publicised incentive programme.

Between October 2006 and September 2007, the newspaper reported, some 20% of the 46,000 security staff employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airports across the US, left their jobs.

Some senior figures in airport security are reported to be concerned at the high level of staff turnover, which they say is impacting on efficiency levels and the overall standard of security being offered.

Clark Ervin, a former Homeland Security inspector, said: "[The] turnover is pretty high. You want people as sharp and as experienced as possible, and that's why it is a concern".

One security screener who has recently left her job claimed that airport security checkpoints are "chronically short-handed".

Airport Security Workers 'Paid Less'

Several reasons have been given for the high turnover rate.

One is the length of the training programme, which at 180 hours takes up to a year.

Another is the fact that many of the security checkpoint staff are part-time rather than full-time, meaning that they cannot manage changes in shift patterns and therefore leave.

The TSA also believes that, quite simply, people underestimate the challenge of working as a security screener.

TSA deputy administrator Gale Rossides said: "It is frequently not the job they expected. [It] is much more physically demanding than they expected".

Many security workers also claim low pay and tough working conditions are to blame.

Screeners salaries are still lower than comparable jobs - such as police - in other federal services according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
US Airport Security Workers Pay and Benefits

The debate about staff turnover at US airports is not new.

As far back as 2000, a Congress report stated that "the rapid turnover among screeners has been a long-standing problem that affects [security] performance".

The turnover issue was recognised in April 2006, when the TSA launched a $100 million incentive programme to improve pay and benefits to full-time security screeners. Last October, a similar programme was launched for the TSA's part-time staff.

Commenting on the report, the TSA recognised the turnover rate, but a spokeswoman said it was "manageable" and pointed to the fact that it was far higher in the 1990s.

Source - Airport International's US Correspondent


Laptop Cases 'Make Airport Security Screening Faster'

US airport security authorities want laptop cases that make airport security screening faster.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a request for bag designers and manufacturers to make a new style of carrying case which will allow airport X-ray machines to scan the bag without the passenger being required to take their computer out of its bag.

Currently, passengers with notebooks have to remove the computer from its case to have the bag scanned.

The TSA, the agency responsible for security at airports across the US, believes that by having an appropriately-designed bag where the passenger can keep their laptop in the bag, the security screening process could be sped up.

Laptop Cases Must Meet Airport Security Requirements

The TSA says the new laptop cases must meet airport security requirements - the most obvious of which, as is the case with all baggage, that the bag design must not disturb the quality of the X-ray image of the laptop itself.

Designers and manufacturers will be allowed to submit concept designs to the TSA until the middle of April.

After this, the TSA will produce a short-list of companies it believes will be able to provide the service.

These companies will then have until the end of May to submit their designs, which will then be examined by the TSA by running them through the security screening process, to see if the X-ray image presented meets the security requirements.

Several companies are already working on bag designs to submit to the TSA, including a firm called Targus.

Al Giazzon, from Targus, commented: "Our goal is to make heavy travelers' lives easier. The key is to keep the laptop separate from everything else. When it's laid flat and goes through the machine it must be visible without obstacles in the way".

He added: "One of the keys is that the bag design must make the laptop easy to see, while also providing protection. It's not as easy as wrapping it in piece of nylon. A regular back pack doesn't offer the same protection".

Source - Airport International's US Correspondent


Music and Light 'Reduce' Airport Passenger Stress

Air passengers' stress could be reduced and airport security improved by music and light, according to the US airport security authority.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it is planning to undertake a total makeover of airport security checkpoints, which will include calming mood lighting and music.

Known as the Checkpoint Evolution Project, the plans for the future of security checkpoints also include provision for new X-ray baggage screening equipment and wider security lanes to help ease congestion.

The plans were announced on the TSA's airport security blog at the weekend by the agency's boss, Kip Hawley.

New X-Ray Baggage Scanning Machines

The TSA has described in detail the design of the new airport security checkpoints it wants to introduce.

Passengers will arrive at the security desk with their carry-on hand luggage. A biometric scanner will then check the passenger's identity, while the passenger's bag and shoes will be scanned by new X-ray machines.

The new X-ray scanning machines, known as millimetre wave portals, are capable of seeing through clothes to present a "whole body image". Hawley says the new scanners "represent the first significant addition to the checkpoint since metal detectors and X-ray machines were introduced in the 1970s".

A so-called "composure bench" will be installed at the end of the security queue, where passengers will have more room than they do at present to collect their bags and put their shoes back on.

While passengers wait in the security queue, they will be surrounded by light panels emitting "calming" colours while soothing, ambient "spa-like" music will be played on loudspeakers.

The idea is to help relax passengers and reduce stress in airport security queues. Hawley said the new design would incorporate the lessons learned from the recent trial of re-configured airport security lanes, which was launched in a bid to ease delays.

In addition, the checkpoints will be surrounded by display boards showing pictures of the security officers, which the TSA hopes "will put a face on and show the personal side of our screeners".
'Improving Airport Security'

Announcing the plans on the TSA blog, Hawley said the new airport security checkpoint design were being launched in order to improve airport security.

Hawley said the use of music and light will help reduce stress in passengers, so making it easier for security officers to spot suspicious behaviour. He said it would "help in making those [passengers] who do pose a threat stand out".

He added that more officers would be specially trained in "behaviour detection" in order to "identify people that intend to do harm".

Hawley said the TSA believes that the future of airport security needs to have "more focus on people, not just things", and that the new checkpoint design was part of that.

The first airport to feature the new checkpoint will be Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. It is not known yet what other airports will introduce the design.

The TSA added that the design being used for the new checkpoints was "modular" and that airports would be able to incorporate individual pieces of the design that would be suitable for their locations.

Source - Airport International's US Correspondent


US Airport Runway Safety Improvements Recorded

Passengers flying in the US are now considered less likely to be involved in runway collisions at US airports, even though there were more runway debris incidents in the past 12 months than during the previous year, according to newly-issued data.

The US FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) detailed 12 serious runways incursions for the past 12 months – 13 less than in fiscal 2008. Commercial airliners figured in two of these – seven less than before. Meanwhile, over 950 minor incursions took place – an increase over the previous year.

Runway Safety

Runway incursions take place when aircraft or airport vehicles move into positions where they could comprise the safety of other aircraft/vehicles. Investigators, safety analysts and regulators alike have been studying the issue of runway safety for some time now, due to the crowded and complex nature of the network of runways and taxiways that large aircraft traverse on a day-to-day basis.

Two years ago, the GAO (Government Accountability Office) issued a report in which it rated the prospect of a “catastrophic runway collision” as “high”. This, it said, was linked to ineffective airport regulation, technology that wasn’t working to its full potential and ATC (Air Traffic Control) workers being stretched too far. The report was issued in a light of a whole raft of near airport collisions that had taken place at US airports in 2007, but the FAA has looked to draft in improvements across the board since then.
Runway Incursions

The administration has urged for tighter communications between aircraft and Air Traffic Control to avoid runway incursions and, according to one official, its calls have been answered. “US runways have never been safer”, J. Randolph Babbitt, stated, adding: “We intensified the focus, and it's absolutely working.”

A new runway lighting system is being implemented at airports across the nation. Known as Runway Status Lights, the system indicates potentially dangerous situations to moving aircraft.

Runway Status Lights is being rolled out along with another new type of airport safety technology - Airport Surface Detection Equipment. This gives ATC workers the ability to follow the progress across an airport of airliners and vehicles alike.


New Body Scan Technology Rolled into US Airports

A new body scan system has been installed at JFK Airport, New York, which allows airport screeners to peer beneath passengers' clothing in search of secreted weapons.

According to the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) - which is rolling the machines into airports across the US - the scanner is not a compulsory security measure. In other words, travellers don't have to use it.

However, those passengers who are required to undergo additional screening have the choice of entering the machine, or opting for a body pat-down.

Millimetre Wave Scanners

The machines - known as millimetre wave scanners - produce a 3D image of the body, showing some degree of detail, but, according to a spokeswoman for the TSA, not some areas.

The images generated, said Lara Uselding, are too blurred to show the anatomy clearly.

Furthermore, she added, the images are only seen by a security worker in a secluded room, who has no contact with the person being examined.

Faces are obscured automatically, she said, and the images are not archived - even if they do show the presence of a hidden weapon.

JFK's scanner was put in at a checkpoint used by the US airlines American Eagle and American Airlines, as well as international carriers Malev (of Hungary), Jet Airways (of India) and Finnair (of Finland).

Introduction of the technology, Uselding commented, was delayed.

"We waited to roll this technology out to address some privacy concerns", she said.

Even so, some, such as the American Civil Liberties Union's Jay Stanley, are still concerned.

"These things often are introduced very gingerly with all the protections, but over the years they're stripped away", he stated.

"How long are they going to be voluntary? How much assurance can we really have that images are not going to end up on the Internet?"

Each scanner, according to Uselding, costs around $150,000. Thirty more are set to be installed in other hubs, although it is not yet known which ones.
15 Second Scans

Passengers using the scanners enter them and raise their arms. The scans themselves last around 15 seconds.

According to Uselding, the machines do not pose a risk to travellers' health, given that the energy emitted equates to 1/10,000th of that of a mobile phone.

The scanners are effectively being piloted so that the TSA can establish how effective they are. As well as airports in the US, the same devices are also being trialled at hubs in seven overseas countries.

Source - Airport International's US Correspondent


Naked Airport Security Scanner

Manchester Airport has started a trial of an X-ray security scanner which produces what's been termed "naked" images of passengers. The new scanning machines provide a full-body image of a passenger, which authorities say will enable any concealed weapons or explosives to be uncovered more quickly.

Passengers will no longer need to remove their belts, shoes and coats when they go through security checks in the airport's Terminal 2. The airport says this will "completely take away the hassle" of going through a 'pat-down' check at the security gate.

However the scans will also reveal a clear outline of genitalia and any false limbs or body piercings. A spokeswoman for Manchester Airport said passengers can refuse to be checked by the machine if they are uncomfortable with the full-body image scan.

Naked Airport X-ray

The scanners work by reflecting electromagnetic X-rays onto the passengers, with the reflected energy creating a black-and-white image. The image is then transmitted to a security officer in a remote location, "who has no contact with the area where the imaging machine is located." After the naked airport xray a security officer then confirms if the passenger can proceed or if a physical search is required.

The scanners, manufactured by RapiScan Systems and costing £80,000 ($126,000) each, have previously been trialled in the UK at London Heathrow. Last week, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ordered 1,000 of the scanners following trials at airports across the USA.
Manchester Airport Security

A number of travellers have contacted media outlets in the UK including BBC and Sky raising privacy and data protection concerns about the technology. In response, the airport spokeswoman said the images produced by the scanner are "not erotic or pornographic, and they cannot be stored or captured in any way."

An airport statement added: "The image produced is a black-and-white, ghost like outline of an individual's body without any distinguishing features such as hair or facial features, making it impossible to recognise people. The process is entirely anonymous. We can assure you that contrary to popular misconception, imaging technology does not allow security staff to see you naked."


Heathrow Airport Expansion Legal Challenge

The proposed expansion at London Heathrow Airport could be subject to a legal challenge from opponents to the development of the hub.

A coalition of local councils, environmental groups and local lobby groups are currently consulting lawyers over whether they will be able to launch a judicial review of the government's public consultation into the planned development of Heathrow.

The consultation period - launched at the end of November, following the government's announcement of the proposals to build a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow - is ending at the end of February.

Last week the groups opposed to Heathrow expansion said they want the consultation extended because some local residents have only just received the mailshots containing the consultation, and also because the very wording of the document itself is confusing.

Now, the opponents have followed this up by pursuing the matter through the legal system.

The objectors claim they could launch a legal challenge to the consultation as soon as this week.
Heathrow Airport Protesters Step Up Campaign

John Stewart, chairman of Hacan - a local lobby group opposed to the expansion - said: "We're very close to a decision, we expect an announcement within days. We believe we can win a legal challenge, because the process of consultation appears to have been so weak and so muddled."

The anti-development campaigners are using their claim that the consultation documents are difficult to understand, and the fact that local residents around Heathrow have only just received their copies of the consultation, as the basis of their legal challenge.

The objectors also claim the government have proceeded with the consultation before authorities have worked out the possible implications on flight routings and noise should a third runway be built, and that they have not included "alarming evidence" about the runway's possible impact on air quality.

They are using documents obtained from Justine Greening, a Conservative MP for Putney, which allegedly show that projected emissions of nitrogen dioxide were not included in the consultation.

If the coalition were to win a final review, ministers could have to review and relaunch the consultation.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


Heathrow Airport "Will Close" If Not Expanded

A group supporting the expansion of London Heathrow Airport claim that if the airport's development does not happen, then in the future Heathrow could close.

Future Heathrow, a campaign group of aviation industry business supporting the government's proposals to expand Heathrow to include a third runway and sixth terminal, say that developing Heathrow is essential for the future economic good of London and the surrounding regions.

According to the group, the expansion proposals are so important that without them then the airport could one day close.

Lord Clive Soley of Hammersmith, director of Heathrow, said: "Unless we get permission for this runway we are stuck. Passenger numbers are stuck, destinations are going down and we will have to close Heathrow".

Soley claims that if Heathrow is not modernised, international companies in London will move to other European cities where capacity is available.

He claims the reason why Dell, the computer manufacturer, recently moved some operations from London to Frankfurt was because of the facilities and lack of capacity at Heathrow.

Soley said: "[Dell] understand. Most people think Heathrow is not up to standard...If things continue to decline [at Heathrow] all those people along the M4 will just do what Dell did, they will up and go because they know they have to be by a hub airport".
Heathrow Airport Expansion Economic Case

Future Heathrow believe this shows there is a strong economic case behind the development for Heathrow. They argue that 72,000 families are dependent on the airport for their livelihoods.

The group says that while the decision to develop Heathrow is being debated, Heathrow - and by extension the economy - is losing out to other European cities.

Saying that Heathrow was "a dying star" in European air travel terms, Soley argued: "Having a hub is important, all major cities have hubs. People come to London to invest but Heathrow is in decline...Amsterdam, Paris, Milan, Madrid - they are all ahead of us".

Soley claims that people accept that Heathrow is good for the economy even if they are against the development for environmental or noise reasons.

"[People] know the airport brings prosperity. They are not simplistically against Heathrow...they know it is the goose that laid the golden egg," he said.

Future Heathrow believe any environmental impact of future development at Heathrow would be offset by the fact that a new generation of more fuel-efficient airliners are now coming into service.
Heathrow Expansion Benefits "Fundamentally Flawed"

Future Heathrow's claims came as those groups opposed to Heathrow development argued that the economic benefits for expansion were "fundamentally flawed".

Anti-expansion group Hacan said a report they commissioned from Dutch consultancy CE Delft shows that the economic case for Heathrow's development had been overstated by the government when it launched the expansion proposals last November.

The report claimed the government's estimate on the economic benefits of Heathrow expansion - some £5 billion ($9.8 billion) per year - had been over-estimated.

John Stewart, Hacan chairman, said their research shows "that the economic benefits of expanding Heathrow would be negligable" against the costs involved.

Stephen Norris, a former Conservative transport minister and candidate for the Mayor of London, supported Hacan's claims.

Norris said: "We are often told that a third runway is essential for the capital's economy. But this report shows those benefits have been overstated by the Government and the aviation lobby".

"It seems that the [government's] report is fundamentally flawed and that by relying on it [they] are misleading us over the need for a third runway at Heathrow," he said.

The strong words used by these groups differing in their views on the further development of Heathrow shows the level of feeling that has developed around the issue.

The three-month public consultation into the government's proposals is due to close on February 27th.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


Greenpeace Protest at Heathrow Airport

Greenpeace activists climbed on top of an airliner at London Heathrow Airport in a protest against the airport's development.

The incident, which occurred at Heathrow's Terminal 1 at 09.45hrs on Monday morning, involved a British Airways Airbus A320.

Four protesters were involved in the demonstration. According to Greenpeace, the activists apparently walked through a set of security doors onto the apron.

Waiting until the passengers had disembarked from the aircraft, which had just arrived from Manchester, the protesters proceeded to walk across the apron to the aircraft.

They then climbed up onto the aircraft, and draped a banner around the aircraft's tailfin which read: "Climate Emergency - No Third Runway".

The British Airports Authority (BAA), the company which operates Heathrow, said that emergency services responded to the protest and removed the four protesters from the aircraft. They were subsequently arrested and taken to Heathrow police station for questioning.

Greenpeace said later that the activists ended their protest peacefully, and did not struggle with emergency services to continue the demonstration.

Heathrow Demonstration Was Against Airport Expansion

A Greenpeace spokeswoman said later that the demonstration was mounted in protest at the government's proposals to build a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow, and their wider campaign to tackle climate change.

The three-month consultation into the proposals ends on Wednesday.

One protester, Anna Jones, was quoted as saying: "We are here to draw a line in the sand and tell Gordon Brown his new runway must not and will not be built".
BAA to Investigate Airport Security Breach

BAA said later on Monday it will launch a "full investigation" into the Greenpeace security breach.

The company described the protest as "unlawful and irresponsible", and said that people opposed to the proposed expansion of Heathrow should use "the proper democratic process to make their views known".

Source - Airport International's London Reporter

Recent Related News Items:


Branson Wants Heathrow Airport Expansion

Sir Richard Branson, the chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, has become the latest senior airline industry figure to throw support behind the government's proposals to develop London Heathrow Airport.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Branson said: "it is more important than ever that London expands its capacity".

Echoing comments made last week by a pro-Heathrow development support group called Future Heathrow, the Virgin boss said that the government must approve the building of a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow for the continued economic well-being of the capital and, by extension, the entire country.

Branson said: "Businesses will move their global headquarters elsewhere in Europe, and they will take thousands of jobs with them if a third runway [is not built] at Heathrow".

He added: "Business travellers need an airport that flows seamlessly, not one that seizes up due to lack of space on the runways".

The Virgin chairman is just the latest senior figure within the aviation and business communities to claim that further expansion at Heathrow is needed to help the economy. Willie Walsh, British Airways' chief executive, has made similar comments previously - and last week the leaders of the CBI, a business lobby group, and the TUC, a trade union, both claimed the plans were vital to continuing economic success.
Heathrow Airport Consultation Ends 27th February

Branson's comments came just days before the government's three-month consultation into the Heathrow expansion closes, on Wednesday 27th February.

As such, the sides on either side of the development plans have become ever more vocal in their views.

On the anti-expansion side, campaigners are due to hold a rally at Westminster Central Hall on Monday evening.

On Wednesday, the day the consultation closes, a delegation of children from the area surrounding Heathrow is set to deliver a plea to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, which will argue that the noise impact of Heathrow will worsen if the development goes ahead. The Evening Standard, a London newspaper, claimed that 100,000 schoolchildren would be affected by increased noise levels.

Councillor Barbara Reid from the 2M Group, a lobby group of 12 local authorities surrounding Heathrow who are opposed to more development at the airport, said: "The government is planning to embark on the biggest ever programme of airport expansion the country has ever seen. It is clear to everyone that this will mean more planes, more noise and more pollution".

Meanwhile, the three candidates for the new Mayor of London - including the existing mayor, Ken Livingstone - have all strongly opposed the proposals.

Last week, Livingstone said: "On every test, the argument for expanding Heath­row has not been made and I don't believe it ever can. We have a duty to protect our environment."

In his interview, Branson dismissed the claims of Livingstone and the other mayoral candidates, saying: "All of the mayoral candidates should be protecting jobs in London and promoting growth. That means supporting a third runway which will deliver the economic expansion London needs in the years ahead".
Greenpeace Stage Heathrow Airport Expansion Protest

A further illustration of the depth of feeling about the Heathrow airport expansion proposals came on the morning of 25th February, the day after Branson made his comments supporting the expansion.

As reported elsewhere on Airport International, Greenpeace activists staged a protest by climbing on top of a British Airways Airbus A320 and draping a banner around the aircraft's tailfin which read "Climate Emergency - No Third Runway".

This is yet another indication of how high feelings are running regarding the issue.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


Beijing Airport Boosting Security for Olympics

China’s state media reported on the 22nd February that security at Beijing Capital International Airport is being boosted pending the Olympics Games, which Beijing is hosting.

Among the measures that will be implemented are police checkpoints on the roads leading in to the hub while, according to Zhang Zhi – a police official at Beijing airport - "Airport police have already been equipped with advanced bomb detecting, moving and disposal devices, along with X-ray machines and anti-riot robots."

"But we need more and faster bomb detectors for the Games," Zhang added, in comments quoted by the China Daily.

Airport Security Zone to be Created

A further measure will be the creation of a security zone around the airport’s perimeter – designed to prevent direct attacks on arriving or departing airliners.

"In addition”, said Zhang, “police teams will conduct thorough background checks on all people employed at the airport."

Earlier this week, one Chinese official spoke of his fear that insurgents living in Xinjiang were planning to target the Games.
FBI Director Impressed with Beijing Security

In January this year, FBI Director Robert Mueller visited the Chinese capital, declaring that the security preparations had impressed him and, in his expectation, the Olympics would be a “secure and safe” event.

Historically speaking, violence has affected a number of previous Olympic events. The 1996 Games in Atlanta, for example, saw a bomb explosion, which caused a single fatality and over 100 injuries.

"There are many happy, important events taking place throughout this year, and the work of the public security bodies will be very hard and complex," Meng Jianzhu, Chinese Security Minister, was quoted by the China News Service as having said.

In September 2007, Airport International reported on the successful triple-runway trial carried out at Beijing Capital. The airport, we wrote, has been making provision for the Beijing Olympics since 2004.

Source – Airport International’s Far East Correspondent


US Airport Security Lane Checkpoints

US airport authorities are testing "checkpoint lanes" designed to reduce security screening delays.

In experiments at Denver International and Salt Lake City Airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is examining whether passengers voluntarily split themselves down into separate queues dependent on their travel status.

At these two airports, there are three separate security "checkpoint lanes" - one each for families, business travellers and so-called 'casual' (or infrequent) travellers.

Signs at the security checkpoints inform the passengers there are three separate lanes - with black diamonds designating those lanes for business travellers, blue squares for casual travellers and green circles for families.

The system is entirely voluntary. Passengers are not forced to join the specific lane, with officials leaving it to the discretion of the travellers themselves.

The level of security screening in each lane is identical.

The experiments began in February, and although the Denver test is due to conclude this week the TSA says the system at Salt Lake City is likely to continue "indefinitely".

Airport Security Lanes 'Ease Delays'

The TSA believes introducing the 3-lane system can help speed up the security checks process and reduce delays.

The organisation says that having business travellers go into one lane - who, it is argued, are more familiar with what is required of them at a security checkpoint - means the queues will reduce, and frustration among passengers at security screening delays could decline.

Earl Morris, who is TSA's representative at Salt Lake City, said: "The principle is a good one, and I think it will be very effective in airports that want to roll it out".

Certainly, TSA officials at the two airports believe efficiency has increased since the lanes were introduced.

Morris commented that peak-time delays have eased, with 12 minute delays for business travellers and 14 minutes for the other two lanes.

Dave Bassett, the TSA boss at Denver, added: "We've been able to more successfully manage expectations. A passenger can think, 'If I've got one bag, I should be able to get through a little faster.'" It's calmed things down".

The US media also reports that passengers using Denver and Salt Lake City felt as though the system was better.

Several business travellers told USA Today, for example, that having a dedicated security lane has helped speed up the process, with one saying "it is more convenient and significantly faster".

Families also said the lane concept was better. Tovah Hansen, for instance, commented: "[It is] easier, and people behind us wouldn't get frustrated. I don't want to inconvenience anyone else".

For their part, airport authorities and the airlines are also in favour of the plans. A big debate in the US civil aviation industry currently concerns ways of improving customer service and reducing delays across all aspects of operations.
'Problems' With Airport Security Lanes

The TSA admitted the Denver and Salt Lake City tests showed there were some problems with the scheme.

Officials say passengers did not see the posters informing them the lane system was operating. Dave Bassett, TSA's boss at Denver, said: "it does take some explanation at times. If you're coming through there for the first time, people are asking questions".

Since the system is only voluntary, TSA officials also acknowledged there is a danger of passengers simply choosing the lane that has the smallest queue.

However, they believe that with wider information about the lane system these problems would reduce and passengers over time would choose the correct lane.

The TSA have said that the success of the trials at Denver and Salt Lake City could lead to a wider roll-out of the secuity lane programme at other US airports.

Source - Airport International's US Correspondent


Sky Marshals on Transatlantic Flights

Armed guards could be placed on transatlantic flights from Europe to the USA if a new security demand is agreed to by European governments.

The US government wants to introduce a raft of new security measures, which includes allowing so-called "sky marshals" to be seated on flights from Europe to America operated by US airlines.

As well as the demand for sky marshals, the US Transport Security Administration (TSA) has six other security demands.

Most significant of these is the demand for the 27 EU member states to supply further personal data on those European air passengers overflying US territory on their way to other destinations, but not landing in the USA.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) containing the proposed measures is currently being circulated around European capitals and at the EU in Brussels. The US government wants the EU27 to each sign bilateral agreements with them, agreeing to the demands.

In return, the US government says countries which agree to the measures will be still be permitted to enable their passengers to travel to the USA without a visa.

It is reported that if a national government does not agree to the demands, then passengers from that country would need to apply for a US visa to allow them to travel to America.

Air Travel Security Measures Cause Controversy

The US security measures have caused consternation in Brussels. Some EU officials are reported to have said the demands constitute "blackmail".

In itself, the demand for sky marshals on flights is regarded by EU officials as "controversial and difficult". Armed guards on all flights would represent a reversal of existing policy - unlike in the USA, where they are mandatory, armed guards on flights in Europe are discretionary. Indeed, only seven countries from the EU27 currently use sky marshals.

The demand for extra information on passengers overflying US territory has also caused anxiety among EU officials. Brussels says it has concerns over data protection and how the extra information would be handled by US government agencies, particularly who would be able to access it.

EU member countries already provide no fewer than 19 items of information on every passenger flying from Europe to the USA, as part of an EU-US passenger data exchange programme agreed last summer.

The US says the extra information would be used to assist with the profiling of potential terrorists and assess security risks. However, EU officials believe their member countries are already providing enough information under the existing data exchange programme.

European airlines also said they were opposed to the proposals. The Association of European Airlines, a trade group representing over 30 major national European carriers, said the demands were "fully unjustifed" and had "no international legal foundation".
'New Europe' Countries Could Sign Air Travel Security Agreement

In launching the proposed new security measures, the US authorities have paid particular attention to negotiations with the 12 East European countries who have joined the EU since 2004.

Currently, citizens in all these countries (except Slovenia) have to apply for visas to enter the USA - unlike the other 15 'original' EU member nations.

EU officials believe that by targeting these 12 countries, Washington could be able to get one or two countries to sign up and then use those agreements "as a rod to beat the other member states with" - a way of getting all the EU27 to agree to the measures.

The EU says the US is deliberately dangling the prospect of visa-free travel to these 12 countries as a way of introducing the new security measures - hence the comment by some officials that the US government's plans were similar to "blackmail".

Certainly, two of the "New Europe" countries - the Czech Republic and Greece - have signalled their desire to agree to the security measures. Both countries have significant ex-pat communities in the USA, and visa-free travel would be popular. Indeed, the Czech deputy prime minister, Alexandr Vondra, has said that it wants to sign up to the measures "in the spring".

He added: "It's in our interest to move ahead [regarding visas]...we have to act in the interest of our citizens".

Despite this, EU officials have said they will be urging the EU27 not to sign the bilateral deals. Politics-watchers in Brussels say the EU wants to delay to work towards a common position between all member states.

Responding to the developments, the UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the UK would be keeping an open mind regarding the proposals.

She said: "There is interest in how and whether it's possible to strengthen the security of those travelling between Europe and the US. This is a request to the EU to look at the conditions around that travel to see what more we can do to strengthen it".

Source - Airport International's Aviation Correspondent


Biometric ID Cards for UK Airport Workers ** Updated

As reported by Airport International two weeks ago, UK airport workers will be among the first British nationals to be issued with biometric identity cards.

The controversial ID card scheme has been in the news for much of this decade, attracting significant media attention.

Despite the Identity Card Act being passed in 2006, the government has struggled to get the programme off the ground.

On 6th March, the UK's Home Secretary Jacqui Smith gave a speech outlining the government's latest thinking on the roll-out of the ID card programme.

She confirmed the media reports that first surfaced two weeks ago that the ID card roll-out wil be delayed until the 2011/2012 timeframe. She also explained that passport applicants will no longer now be required to have mandatory ID cards, and that biometric iris and fingerprint data will not be collected from those applying for passports.

However, Ms Smith said that airport workers around the UK will have to have mandatory ID cards.

She explained that 200,000 staff working at airports, ranging from check-in staff to those working on airside including immigration and customs officials, baggage handlers, engineers and ground operations staff, would be receiving their mandatory ID cards from 2009.
Airport Security Improved By ID Cards, Says Government

Ms Smith said the government believed that providing mandatory ID cards to airport workers would help improve airport security.

At airports, Ms Smith said, "there is a compelling need for reassurance that someone is who they say they are".

She added: "[ID cards] offer a national standard for security [and] can add value over and above the efforts of any one sector".

Two weeks ago, when the plans to introduce mandatory ID cards were first leaked to the media, theIdentity and Passport Service, the agency which will be responsible for controlling the ID card scheme, said: "It is obviously right and logical that our first priority should be to consider where ID cards can be of greatest benefit to the security of the UK".

The government's decision to begin the ID card roll-out programme by targeting airport workers has apparently been reinforced by the findings of a Home Office review which looked at the security of the UK's transport infrastructure.
ID Card Programme Consultation Needed - Union

When the news that airport employees would be in receipt of the cards, unions said they wanted further discussion with the government over the plan.

Unite, the union representing civil air transport sector workers, said it would be seeking "full consultation" with the Home Office.

They added that they will be "seeking assurances" that the ID cards would not discriminate against existing or new BAA employees, or that workers would not have to pay the projected £93 to buy the biometric card.

Source - Airport International's Aviation Correspondent


Biometric Data Collection for Heathrow Airport Passengers

assengers to help boost security.

Some travellers using the airport's Terminal 1 are now required to undergo iris scans and provide fingerprints before boarding their flights.

The rules apply to domestic passengers who wish to visit the Terminal's international lounge, and passengers arriving on an international flight and transferring to a UK domestic one.

Domestic passengers who do not wish to visit Terminal 1's international lounge will not have to provide the data.

A spokeswoman for the British Airports Authority (BAA), which runs Heathrow, said passengers will still continue to provide their photo ID and boarding pass in addition to the iris scan and fingerprint.

She explained that the biometric data is destroyed within 24 hours.

Iris, Fingerprint Scanning Could Be Extended to Terminal 5

The collection of iris and fingerpint data is significant because it is the first time passengers at Heathrow are required to give their data.

Previously, the only biometric data collection at Heathrow has been on a voluntary basis - since 2005, 'frequent flyer' passengers using Terminals 2 and 4 have been able to voluntarily sign up for iris scanning.

The spokeswoman added that the biometric scanning could be extended to include the new Terminal 5, opening at the end of March, which will be used exclusively by British Airways and will handle domestic and international flights.
Terminal 5 Check-In Cut-Off

Meanwhile, British Airways has announced that it will be operating a 45-minute cut-off time limit for check-in at the new Terminal 5.

This deadline will apply to all passengers, both domestic and international, and to all classes of travel - including business-class.

A BA spokesman said this cut-off time would be "unbreakable".

He added that BA will no longer allow changes to tickets or seating plans at the boarding gate.

Terminal 5 opens for domestic and European services on March 27, with intercontinental services following on April 30.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


Heathrow Airport Consultation Has Ended

The government's three-month public consultation into the future expansion of London Heathrow Airport ended on Wednesday 27th February, amid further arguments from those supporting and protesting against the development plans.

Recent weeks have seen increasingly vocal arguments and counter-arguments on either side of the debate to expand what is one of the world's busiest airports, with airline industry figures, business leaders, politicians, environmental lobbyists and local pressure groups all making their feelings known.

True to form, the last few hours before the consultation ended saw supporters and critics of the proposals deliver further evidence in support of their contrasting claims.

Then, on Wednesday morning, five members ofthe Plane Stupid protest group managed to evade security to climb onto the roof of the Houses of Parliament in London where, during a three-hour protest, they unfurled large anti-expansion banners. This followed a protest at Heathrow itself on Monday, where Greenpeace activists staged a brief protest on a British Airways airliner.

'Valuable' Economic Argument for Heathrow Expansion

Those supporting the expansion plans - which make provision for a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow by 2020 - said the economic argument for expanding Heathrow was impressive.

A study from the Institute of Directors and the airline bmi claimed 70% of UK business surveyed wanted Heathrow to expand because of the economic growth potential the airport's expansion could bring. The report said Heathrow is a "valuable business hub for UK industry" and that the "contribution [the airport] makes to economic prosperity must not be overlooked".

This claim followed in the wake of similar comments made by business and trade union leaders and by airline bosses Willie Walsh, from British Airways, and - just at the weekend - Virgin Atlantic's Sir Richard Branson.

The UK's regional airports are also said to have favoured the expansion of Heathrow in their submissions to the government's consultation because of the knock-on effects of having links to Heathrow.

Graeme Mason from Newcastle International Airport commented: "The future growth of Heathrow does not just impact on London and the south east; it also has a major impact on peripheral regions which rely greatly on access into major airports for continued growth, inward investment and access to world markets".
Heathrow Development Opposed By Politicians, Environment Groups

On the other side of the argument, many polticians, environmental campaigners and anti-expansion lobbyists voiced their opinion that the effects of expanding Heathrow would be entirely negative.

Despite deploring the actions of the Plane Stupid protest at the House of Commons, several MPs went on record saying they agreed with the core argument that developing the airport was a bad move for environmental reasons.

The Plane Stupid protesters were eventually led off the Parliament building roof peacefully and subsequently arrested by police for trespass.

Greenpeace, who staged the Heathrow protest on Monday, said: "If the government is serious about tackling climate change, there should be no question of increasing the number of flights coming in and out of Heathrow Airport".

Some of those against the expansion also attacked the consultation process itself.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker MP described the process as "a sham", while Greenpeace commented that "the consultation process...[has been] designed to push through a decision that has already been made". The Department of Transport (DoT) refuted this claim.

On Monday evening, over 2,500 local residents surrounding Heathrow attended an anti-expansion rally which was attended by the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, and supported by the candidates for the Mayor of London - all of whom, including the present Mayor, Ken Livingstone, have come out in opposition to the expansion plans.

Now the consultation has ended, the Department of Transport will look into the submissions received.

It is expected a decision about the expansion proposals will be announced during the summer.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter


Fingerprint Security Checks At Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

It was announced over the weekend that mandatory security checks involving fingerprinting and photographs will be carried out at Heathrow's new Terminal 5 when it opens at the end of this month.

All British airline passengers using domestic flights from T5, which will be used exclusively by British Airways, will have to provide the biometric information when they check in.

Passengers will have four fingerprints taken at check-in, where they will also be photographed.

The fingerprint scanning process will be repeated airside, before passengers board the aircraft, and the photograph taken at check-in will be compared with their face.

As reported by Airport International at the start of February, passengers using Heathrow's Terminal 1 have been required to provide biometric data. However, that only applies to passengers using the international lounge in that terminal.

The T5 scheme is significant because it marks the first time a UK airport will be taking mandatory biometric data from passengers using domestic services.

The Daily Telegraph also reported the scheme could be introduced more widely, taking in domestic passengers at Heathrow's Terminal 1 as well as passengers using Gatwick and Manchester.

BAA: Biometric Data Collection 'Improves Heathrow Security'

Heathrow's operator, the British Airports Authority (BAA), says the biometric information will help security at Heathrow.

BAA explained that the design of T5 meant it was necessary the measures were introduced.

International and domestic passengers will use the same public areas after check-in, and BAA says this means potential criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants arriving from other countries "could bypass border controls" and exchange boarding passes with domestic passengers who had already checked-in.

Potentially, BAA said, they could then board a domestic flight, where proof of identity is not required at the moment, fly on to UK airport and leave without having to go through passport control.

By introducing biometric data for passengers on internal flights, BAA said, this potential loophole could be closed, so boosting security.

BAA added that the security scheme was agreed after consultation with the Home Office.

The biometric data will be destroyed after 24 hours.

British Airways said they were "supportive" of the T5 biometric checks. A spokesman for the airline said: "we need to make sure the right people get on the right flights and this will definitely help us to ease check-in and boarding procedures".
Civil Liberties Groups Criticise Heathrow Fingerprinting

Civil liberties campaigners raised their concerns about the plans. They argued that outside agencies could access the data in the future.

Dr Gus Hosein, from the London School of Economics, a critic of biometric data collection, told the Sunday Telegraph: "BAA says the fingerprint data will be destroyed, but the records of who has travelled within the country will not be, and it will provide a rich source of data for the police and intelligence agencies".

Hosein added: "By doing this [taking biometric data] they will make innocent people feel like criminals".

BAA said the data is "purely for border control purposes" and would not be passed to any other agencies.

Civil liberties group Privacy International said they believe the biometric scheme is unecessarily expensive.

Simon Davies, a director of Privacy International, argued: "If they are photographing people anyway, why can't that be used as a means of identifying them, rather than taking biometric data? It would probably be 50 times more reliable at a 50th of the cost".

Source - Airport International's London Reporter