High-fliers for Q'town

Queenstown Airport aviation security officers Athol Murray (left) and Paul Franklin (centre), and...
Queenstown Airport aviation security officers Athol Murray (left) and Paul Franklin (centre), and airport chief executive Steve Sanderson inspect one of two hand luggage X-ray machines in the terminal. Present security and future measures will be discussed at a major international conference in Queenstown in February. Photo by James Beech.
Hosting an international airport security conference in Queenstown next year will keep the airport abreast of evolving technologies and is a major win for the resort, the airport chief says.

Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Steve Sanderson said the company was very excited about the news it would host the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and the affiliated International Association of Airport Executives (IAAE) in New Zealand for the first time.

More than 200 AAAE delegates from the United States and Canada and all European members of the IAAE will meet in Queenstown from February 15 to 17.

The theme of the conference will be "strengthening aviation security partnerships across the globe".

Existing security policies and technology will be studied and discussion will focus on how governments and industry can work together to increase both security and traveller convenience.

New passenger and baggage-screening technologies, including biometric credentials and machine-readable travel documents, will be on the agenda.

Mr Sanderson said there were no specific airport security issues the Queenstown corporation wanted to raise.

"I think it's a learning process for any New Zealand delegates who attend from airports or airlines.

The US probably lead in security and we're particularly interested in some of the evolving technologies which will alleviate LAGs, which is liquids, aerosols and gases.

"They're bringing out detection stuff so basically you won't have to remove liquids from your bags."

Mr Sanderson said most of the delegates would bring their partners and were expected to spend up to a week in the Wakatipu.

"This will be a success not only for the associations, but Queenstown Airport and supporters like Millennium Hotel and we're hosting the dinner over at Walter Peak."

Mr Sanderson pitched the idea of the resort as host, with the support of Destination Queenstown and Tourism New Zealand, when he attended an industry conference in Philadelphia.

The details of which Queenstown and New Zealand delegates will attend were being worked out.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Clive Geddes may open the conference.

New Zealand Airports chief executive Kevin Ward, of Wellington, said he was likely to attend but it was up to the American conveners to decide which policymakers to invite.

The AAAE's members represent about 850 airports and the hundreds of companies and organisations that support airports. The AAAE has an annual turnover of $21 million, 65 staff and organises industry training and accreditation.


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