By Humphrey Carter

ALL luggage going into aircraft holds at Palma airport will be subjected to x-ray screening by the end of the month.
Spanish airport authority AENA confirmed yesterday that the installation of the new x-ray equipment and training of staff is nearly complete and that within the next ten days, every single item of luggage will be screened before being loaded onto aircraft. Nearly five million euros has been spent on the new security system at Son San Joan airport, one of the first airports in Spain to be fitted with such a security system. AENA aims to have installed the equipment at all of its airports, including Minorca and Ibiza, by the end of the year. AENA embarked on its airport security shake-up at the start of the year and Palma airport bosses made the most of the relatively quiet start to the year to install the new systems as quickly as possible. In other airports, such as Madrid and Barcelona, the systems have been phased in gradually in order to reduce passenger disruption to a minimum. All luggage is also being screened at Palma ferry terminal and the Balearic port authority also intends to gradually install x-ray equipment at all of the region's sea ports, in particular passenger terminals. Air passengers will have noted that much stricter controls are being carried out on hand-luggage and airport bosses are confident that while security and safety is being significantly tightened, journey times are not taking any longer for passengers. Airports and airlines maintain that providing passengers comply with checking-in two hours before departure and the new security controls of what items can and can not be carried on board planes in personal hand-luggage, disruptions will be minimal. AENA is investing nearly 40 million euros in installing the necessary equipment so that come the end of this year, 100 per cent of all luggage is security checked. The Spanish airport authority was already planning similar security improvements at the time of the September 11 attacks on the United States, but the terrorist strike promoted AENA into speeding up their security shake-up and bring the operation forward.


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