MPs slam ‘stream­lin­ing’ of Ar­gyll air­ports’ se­cu­rity

The Oban Times - - NEWS - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

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.’

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