No extension of air passenger screening

Security screening for domestic air travel will not be extended, but flight deck security will be tightened, Transport Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

The Government has been considering the review of aviation security, ordered by the previous government following a hijack attempt in February last year.

"The cost to extend screening, estimated at $160 million over 10 years, is prohibitively expensive and creates costs for airports, airlines, government and ultimately passengers," Mr Joyce said.

"Fortunately, events like the alleged hijacking in February 2008 are very rare in New Zealand. While there will always be some risk with unscreened passengers on domestic aircraft, the cost of implementing additional screening would have a disproportionate impact on domestic aviation and is therefore unjustified, particularly in these tough economic times."

The Government will instead implement a range of alternative security measures, including strengthening existing cockpit doors on aircraft with more than 30 seats, and investigating the installation of cockpit doors for 19-seat aircraft.

"Strengthened cockpit doors will reduce the risk of interference with an aircraft mid-flight and will be significantly less costly than implementing additional screening."

The review of aviation security found unscreened passengers and carry-on baggage were a high-risk area but that the threat of terrorism was "very low".

The review said greater screening of crew and carry-on baggage would be the best way to increase security, at an estimated cost of $5 per passenger.





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