Fear bags won’t be searched at airports

Barra airport.
Barra airport.

A new security procedure is to be rolled out at three Highlands and Islands Airports which could mean bags and passengers are not searched.

From the end of this month passengers boarding at Barra Airport, as well as Campbelltown and Tiree, will ‘undergo a streamlined check-in process’ at their departure airport ahead of their flight.

Passengers connecting to onward flights would be required to reclaim their luggage, check-in and join the existing security procedures at Glasgow Airport but those with Glasgow as a final destination may not require any bag or passenger searches at all.

A spokesperson for HIAL said: “The new measures, agreed with the CAA and DfT, are proportionate, and take full account of safety and security.

“The move follows a review of the security procedures at each of the airports operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Transport.

“The new measures have been designed to improve the general passenger experience for passengers travelling to Glasgow, whilst maintaining appropriate security standards.”

There is no information available as yet regarding potential job losses at any of the three airports.

Current CAA and Department for Transport regulations state that airports which operate aircraft below 15 tonnes may adopt the new proportional security measures.

The spokesperson added: “As is the case currently, items on the prohibited articles list displayed at check-in points at the airports involved may not be carried on any aircraft, and the teams at each airport will assist passengers with any questions on the new procedures.”

Airport worker’s union Prospect insist the new measures put both staff and passengers at risk.

Prospect negotiator David Avery said: “Prospect believes this change is unreasonable and disproportionate and puts staff and passengers at risk.

“The current regime of security checks was introduced more than ten 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.”

He continued: “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.

“We are also concerned about the equalities impact of returning to individual passenger searches and of course about our members’ jobs.

“Prospect is calling on HIAL to delay the decision to allow full consultation with users and staff.”

Prospect have also claimed that HIAL says it will offer voluntary redundancy or redeployment to other duties and protect salaries, but could not guarantee that hours will be maintained.

HIAL state there are no plans at present to roll out the measures at any other airports.