MPs slam ‘streamlining’ of Argyll airports’ security
SAFETY and jobs have been put at risk by new security procedures at Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra airports, the area’s MPs claim.
Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) announced last week that it will no longer carry out handluggage and body searches at Tiree, Barra and Campbeltown airports as of this week.
Current perimeter controls and hold luggage checks will remain, but mail will no longer be screened.
A HIAL spokesman said: ‘ From Monday January 30, new security procedures will be introduced at Campbeltown, Barra and Tiree airports which will mean that passengers travelling to Glasgow will undergo a streamlined check-in process at their departure airport ahead of their flight.
‘ These new measures were agreed with the Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport, and are proportionate to the size of the aircraft involved and the number of passengers travelling. They also take full account of safety and security.
‘ The new measures have been designed to improve the general passenger experience for passengers travelling to Glasgow, whilst maintaining appropriate security standards
‘Any customers transferring to onward destinations will be required to reclaim their luggage, check-in and join the existing security procedures at Glasgow Airport.’
The Prospect union was critical of the change, calling it ‘unreasonable and dispropor- tionate’ and putting ‘staff and passengers at risk’.
Negotiator David Avery said: ‘ The current regime of security checks was introduced more than 10 years ago and has been largely successful. But despite the long- standing rules, security staff regularly find passengers carrying prohibited liquids, small knives and, in extreme cases, firearms ammunition.
‘ The flight path into Glasgow is close to nuclear power facilities at Hunterston, the large oil terminal and facilities at Finnart on Loch Long, and Ministry of Defence establishments at Coulport, Faslane and Glen Douglas.
‘ Lowering security at Highlands and islands airports could make these sites, and the airports themselves, far more likely to be potential targets.
‘ No other airport has suggest- ed making changes like this – indeed the trend has been for more rigorous checks over recent years.’
Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara and Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil challenged HIAL’s managing director Inglis Lyon during a conference call last week about the risk to security and the staff, totalling about 11, who currently make the checks at the three airports.
Mr O’Hara said: ‘ This smacks of a crude cost- cutting measure. Nothing in this day and age is worth more than passenger safety and confidence. Mr Lyon said there will be no compulsory redundancies and staff will be offered voluntary severance agreements.’
Mr MacNeil added: ‘ It is a step in the wrong direction to be relaxing security. This is an unnecessary relaxation of a system that works well. We will now have the situation where you can fly into Glasgow International Airport without prior security checks.’
However, not everyone agreed. South Kintyre councillor Rory Colville said: ‘ I am delighted that local concerns have been addressed. This common sense approach will end passengers having their personal luggage being individually inspected item by item, resulting in a much more user-friendly service that can only result in a greater uptake of this essential transport provision.’
A statement from Oban and the Isles Airport said: ‘ There are no plans to change the security procedures at Oban airport – or at Coll and Colonsay. The procedures comply with the National Aviation Security Programme.’