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Fears increased security could reduce airport capacity

Concerns have emerged that new airport security measures proposed by the home secretary could actually reduce airport capacity.

Body scanners are expected to be introduced at Heathrow within the next three weeks, and at all other UK airports “when possible” said the Department for Transport (DfT).

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK chief executive Mike Carrivick welcomed the proposals if they made flying safer. However, he warned the government against introducing measures that proved so time-consuming they actually made the UK’s airports less competitive.

Carrivick said: “Our attitude depends on the effect the additional security has. If it meant four-hour check-in times and an hour to go through the gate, then we would lose a lot of capacity as aircraft would spend longer at the gate.”

“We are looking for procedures that provide reassurance to passengers as terrorists are getting more astute.”

He said members of the airline industry were due to meet with the DfT yesterday to discuss the proposals made by home secretary Alan Johnson. 

The proposals include more pat-downs, increased luggage searches and more sniffer dogs, although Johnson admitted no system would be 100% safe.

Carrivick said the introduction of body scanners may save time. They are quicker than full body pat-downs as an ongoing test of the technology starting in December at Manchester airport has proven.

An airport spokeswoman said the pilot scheme was proving popular, particularly since the failed bomb attack on Christmas Day on an aircraft landing at Detroit, which sparked the introduction of additional measures.

As many as 75% of customers tested by the body scanners backed it before Christmas, but that figure rose to 93% during a test day after the failed bombing.

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