Focus on cockpit doors, not more aviation screening - RePress

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Monday, May 18

Focus on cockpit doors, not more aviation screening

Transport Minister Steven Joyce announced today that the government will not extend security screening for domestic air travel, preferring instead to tighten up flight deck security on domestic aircraft.

The government has been considering the review of aviation security, ordered by the previous government following an alleged hijacking attempt in February last year. The review assessed the risks in New Zealand's domestic aviation environment to see if current levels of security were adequate.

"The cost to extend screening, estimated at $160 million over ten years, is prohibitively expensive and creates costs for airports, airlines, government and ultimately passengers" says Mr Joyce.

"Fortunately, events like the alleged hijacking in February 2008 are very rare in New Zealand. While there will always be some risk with unscreened passengers on domestic aircraft, the cost of implementing additional screening would have a disproportionate impact on domestic aviation and is therefore unjustified, particularly in these tough economic times."

Mr Joyce says the government will instead implement a range of alternative security measures, including strengthening existing cockpit doors on aircraft with more than 30 seats, and investigating the installation of cockpit doors for 19-seat aircraft.

"Strengthened cockpit doors will reduce the risk of interference with an aircraft mid-flight and will be significantly less costly than implementing additional screening."

"Security committees, made up of airline and airport staff, local police and other key stakeholders will be established at most regional airports to improve sharing of security intelligence and enhance local threat assessment and risk management.

"We will also be enhancing training and education requirements for airline and airport staff to increase their risk awareness and proficiency in security matters.

"These measures will improve general security awareness and the security of aircraft."

Mr Joyce says he will be writing to all domestic airports to encourage them to consider the possible future need for passenger screening when planning for terminal changes, so that if the threat environment changes in the future, airports will be better equipped to implement screening quickly if required.

"New Zealand's domestic aviation security is constantly under review and if the threat environment changed, the need for additional domestic passenger screening will be revisited."
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