By Humphrey Carter PALMA

SPAIN has made it clear that, unless a European Union directive is issued ordering that all airports install body scanners, it will not follow the lead set by airports in the UK, Holland and France.

But, yesterday, the Palma-based Spanish Association of Airlines, AECA, claimed that body scanners will lead to severe delays during the peak summer holiday season at the country's main tourist airports such as Palma.

AECA airport security expert, Juan Carlos Garcia, said that the main bone of contention Spain has with the body scanners are that they “virtually strip the traveller down and scan the passenger naked” but he also added that there are also concerns over whether the machines pose a health risk.

INEVITABLE

Garcia claimed that the scanners which have been installed in Holland and some UK airports have raised the issue of the violation of privacy but they have also slowed the process of security down. They're not as fast as the current metal detecting scanners we have in operation and passengers still have to take their coats and jackets off to pass through the body scanners anyway, just like they do now,” he added.

The security expert also maintains that the body scanners do have their flaws and are not 100 percent reliable.
Garcia believes that the explosives Abdul Faruk Abdulmutallab was carrying when he apparently tried to blow up the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit last December, would not have been detected by a body scanner.

He also said that the installation of body scanners is going to significantly increase the security costs airports are having to meet and, as a result, could lead to airport taxes and operating costs being increased to cover the extra expenditure.

But, the Spanish government is starting to divide over body scanners. Public Works Minister José Blanco commented last week that the introduction of full body scanners at Spanish airports appears to be coming “inevitable.” Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero however stated that there are no immediate plans to adopt the measure, and that Spain would not act “unilaterally,” but first evaluate the “guarantees and efficiency” of the machines.