The Argyle International Airport (AIA) has defended its passenger screening protocols amidst accusation that they are invasive.
The airport told a press conference on Monday that the practices it employs are in keeping with regional and international standards.
Keith Miller, the AIA’s head of security, said the airport ensures that the persons given the responsible to carry out the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and practices are eligible.
“In addition to that, our regulators, be it local or our regulators from around the region, meaning ECCAA (Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority) and further afield, ICAO, will come and do their own audits and inspections to ensure that what they say must be done are being done,” Miller said.
“So what we do at the airport here, it is not just done ad hocly, it is not just done by guess, it is a system, it is well organised and very systematic. So we want to give you that level of confidence that what our screeners do it’s in compliance with what is recommended, or standards that are put in place by ICAO.”
He said that the United States Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) recently put the AIA’s staff “through the rigours” because the airport was preparing for scheduled commercial flights to and from JFK, New York — which began March 14.
Miller said that persons are always concerned about the method of screening done at the checkpoints.
“We have gotten several reports and I am happy to report that our investigations so far have shown that these reports are unfounded. We have seen through thorough investigations that our screeners are doing their best and they have passed the test by ECCAA, by ICAO auditors and also by TSA auditors.”
Miller said that screening is systematic.
“And all we are trying to do every day at the airport is to make the skies safe; to ensure that persons do not go across [the tarmac to] an aircraft with any prohibited items or any dangerous goods.
“I am sure that there are persons who are more comfortable to be certain that every passenger that goes on that aircraft is being screened so that they can get to their destination swiftly.”
He said that checked bags that are flagged are inspected in the presence of the passenger.
“We want passengers and potential passengers to always feel comfortable and happy travelling across AIA. We are a professional bunch and want to continue doing things that are professional, we cannot stray from the norm; we must stick to what ICAO standards and recommended practices are,” said Miller, a retired Commissioner of Police.
Meanwhile, AIA manager, Hadley Bourne explained why some passengers are checked manually although the metal detector does not go off.
“There are other devices and instruments that persons may use that the metal detector may not pick up, so they are required additional screening in order for us to facilitate whether or not these devices might be carried in their person,” Browne said.
“I keep hearing, ‘Oh, I went through the scanner and it didn’t go off, so why I need another search. We are not only searching for metals and that’s the main duty of the metal detector. What I would say is that there are other machines, which we don’t have at the moment, body scanners, which if any person out there in the media or public sector want to invest in a couple for AIA, we would be pleased, but those machines, they do the all body scan which would negate having that physical pat down.”
He said these machines cost between US$150,000 and US$200,000 each.
Bourne further asked persons not to be alarmed when their electronic devices are subjected to specialised screening, noting that this is part of the international standard.
“It is all part of what we are trying to maintain in our sterile environment as we travel on board an aircraft.”
Miller said: “We are trying to prevent things before they happen, not to respond to them when they happen. Where we can’t prevent and incidents occur, then we would have to respond. But our aim here is to prevent and to make your flight safe.”