Tue, Jul 17, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Aviation police, airlines at odds over X-ray plan

By Yao Chieh-hsiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

An announcement from the Aviation Police Office that airports will be required to X-ray all luggage passing through customs has ignited a row with airlines, who fear longer delays will be bad for business.

Aviation police said they have spent NT$350 million (US$10.67 million) on 10 new computer tomographer (CT) X-ray scanners, which they plan to install soon at departure terminals.

Airlines, however, are outraged that they were not consulted beforehand, saying that airports should make convenience for travelers a priority.

Huang Tsao-jao (黃藻饒), head of the aviation police's Security Inspection Department, added to tensions when he said at a meeting with airlines last week that installation of the new scanners was a "high-level directive, and that the director of any airport that doesn't comply will have to step down."

Airline officials say countries began to use the CT scanners after the Sept. 11 attacks, but the US, Europe and Japan no longer use them to inspect all luggage.

The officials said they were not opposed to stricter security measures, but said airports in other countries have moved the machines out of the public areas of terminals and now use them only for inspecting suspicious baggage.

Installing the scanners at all customs counters and blocking off the areas around them could create severe delays when several flights are scheduled to depart around the same time, they said.

The airports have said they will comply with the order but their priority is the airline companies and travelers' interests.

The Aviation Police Office said it was initially opposed to the plan, but that the "high-level directive" took the matter out of its hands.

Huang said he chose those words because he was quoting orders from the Ministry of Transportation and Communication's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), which both the ministry and the CAA have denied issuing.

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