News24

Airports need better security

2010-01-21 17:03

Berlin - Germany's interior minister called on Thursday for a full inquiry into a major alert at Munich airport when a man fled security personnel after his laptop tested positive for possible explosives.

"I have ordered every single circumstance surrounding this incident to be looked at with all those involved," Thomas de Maiziere said on Deutschlandfunk radio, adding that he was taking it "very seriously".

"If necessary, then consequences must be taken at Munich airport," he said, as well as other airports in Germany if problems "of a structural nature" are detected.

Police said after the incident, which involved parts of Munich airport being sealed off, that the traveller was most likely a businessman in a hurry to catch his flight, unaware that security personnel wanted to check his laptop.

"I find it unfathomable that someone can simply disappear with his laptop after security checks," Harald Schneider from the Bavarian police union said. "Therefore it is necessary that there are more security personnel and police."

"If you check someone, you should be able to stop him," German police union chief Josef Scheuring told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.

He also said that the situation was not helped by airport security firms, which took over the role in the 1990s, employing poorly paid and unmotivated staff.

Airports around the world have been on high alert since a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up an airliner over the United States on December 25 with explosives concealed in his underwear.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to press European Union interior ministers at a meeting in Toledo, Spain on Thursday to install body scanners at airports in the 27-nation bloc.

De Maiziere said that tests in Germany on body scanners were "very promising" and that the government would make a decision on whether to introduce them later this year.

"Perhaps we could offer them to passengers in order to gain people's trust, saying in one channel there is a body scanner, which is quick, and that in other a body search, which takes a bit longer. Then we can see how high the acceptance is," he said.

He added that he was in favour of a Europe-wide legal framework for their introduction.