The snowy conditions and extended closures of many of Britain’s busiest airports over the hectic festive period have grabbed the headlines over the past couple of weeks, meaning that one particularly disturbing story relating to the aviation industry has been pushed into the shadows slightly. However, with terrorism and security fears never far from the forefront of airline bosses’ and tourists’ minds, it seems likely that reports of this sort are set to be the standard as 2011 gets underway.
The latest security alert revolved around the use of terror scouts in the UK, with individuals apparently sent to airports across the nation with instructions to test the level of airport security. Counter-terrorism officials have warned that regional airports may have become the targets for dummy bomb runs, with some airports reporting suspect packages passing through their scanners that seem to have similar profiles to those of improvised explosive devices.
Although nobody has been charged for possessing these suspect packages, since they were examined by bomb disposal experts and found to be harmless, fears are increasing around Whitehall that security levels at major regional air hubs around the country are being assessed by terror scouts in order to identify points of weakness that can be exploited as part of widespread terror plots.
BAA has previously reacted to such threats by urging the government to make security procedures at airports more unpredictable so that terror scouts can’t report back specific, reliable information, whilst the airport owner is also thought to be considering the introduction of a widespread system designed to train staff to identify suspicious passengers passing through security.