Guernsey Airport in the UK is to invest more than £1.5m (US$1.8m) in modern screening equipment in a bid to alleviate problems with its security processes.
Passengers at the Channel Islands airport have recently experienced long queues and excessive delays in clearing security, with some voicing concerns over frequent and potentially intrusive body searches. In recent weeks understaffing has also caused issues, with the central search area reduced to a single security lane on several occasions.
The first phase of the improvements will see the arrival of a new, high-tech body scanner, which is expected to be installed around the end of September 2019. Guernsey hopes that it will enable faster clearance and be less intrusive for passengers.
Ash Nicholas, head of aviation services at Guernsey Airport, said, “We are making every effort to address the recent situation, and once all the new scanning equipment is in place, we are confident travelers will see a significant improvement. In the meantime, I can only apologize to anyone who has been affected, and we are grateful for everyone’s patience while all the changes happen.”
Nicholas acknowledged that the service in recent weeks had fallen well below the standard Guernsey Airport would expect. He expects the new body scanner to reduce the need for manual body searches, which have been the source of many complaints.
“Most travelers will be familiar with whole body scanners at other UK airports and will know how quickly a scan can be carried out compared with a manual search. It uses the latest technology, is wheelchair compatible, has step-free access, and is less restrictive in space than the older enclosed scanners used in some airports.
“Once it is installed, if a passenger activates the archway metal detector they will be asked to step into the scanner, rather than be subjected to a manual body search. If the scanner then indicates there is a problem, it will identify where on the body and that will enable a much more targeted, less invasive manual search. Guernsey Airport is also proposing to replace the machines currently used to scan cabin baggage this year.”
Security contractor G4S is also recruiting more staff to reduce delays at the airport.
“Five new local recruits have recently completed their training, achieved security clearance, and are now assisting existing staff in the security search areas. Additional staff are also being interviewed shortly, with a view that they be offered employment before commencing their three-week training and site induction courses. This will increase numbers to a level commensurate with the airport security operation requirements,” said Nicholas.