Massiva security shake-up announced for all spanish airports

Next summer all holidaymakers coming to the Balearics will have their hand and hold luggage manually checked as part of Spanish Airport and Air Traffic Control authority AENA's drive to tighten up security at all Spanish airports. A wide ranging security improvement plan had been scheduled to be introduced in 2003, but AENA bosses announced yesterday that the security shake up has been brought forward and that the budget had been quadrupled. AENA is to spend nearly 8'000 million pesetas (46 million euros) on the security project and AENA director general, Pedro Arguelles said yesterday that one of the main areas where checks are to be drastically tightened is baggage inspections. The first steps of throwing the ring of steel around all Spanish airports are to be taken this week at Madrid airport with the very latest state-of-the-art United States recommended x-ray machines being installed. Arguelles also revealed yesterday that central government has given the green light for plans to inspect all tourists' luggage to be brought forward in time for next summer, the original start date had been January, 2003. Arguelles said that already, airport security has been significantly stepped up at all terminals and that AENA has been locked in talks with various international organisations, the European Commission and the International Civil Aviation Organisation to make sure that Spain is up to date on all the very latest security developments and that all European countries are taking similar steps. “There is little point in Spain acting unilaterally in all this,” the AENA chief said. He was however quick to point out that prior to the September 11 attacks, security at all Spanish airports was tight, but the heightened risk of terrorist activities has to be dealt with and all European airports are co-operating in the war against terrorism. On Tuesday, the European Commission will be debating airport and airline security improvements. One of the ideas put forward by Transport Ministers is to set up a special airport security inspection body which will supervise all security improvements and ensure that security is operating at a maximum level. But while EU countries unanimously favour security improvements on the ground, Ministers are stil split over new security measures on board aircraft. A total of 16 recommendations will be discussed on Tuesday, the latest being the installation of video cameras in aircraft cabins. But Ministers are split over the video camera proposal as well as steps to station armed guards or air marshals on all planes.

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