Airline staff to be scanned for links

Background checks of staff ordered following Kingfisher security fiasco

Airline staff to be scanned for links

The directive comes in the wake of the arrest of a former staffer of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for placing a explosive-like device on a Kingfisher Airline flight from Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram, and his subsequent disclosure that the act was done to expose security lapses at the airport.

Highly-placed sources said the checks would be on the lines of that carried out by the Central paramilitary forces such as the CISF and the Central Reserve Police Force who carry out similar checks on their personnel.

“The directives issued to airline operators include strict compliance to contract employee character and antecedent verification before recruitment and periodical review of every staffer” said sources.

Currently, all Central paramilitary forces such as CISF, CRPF and the armed forces conduct periodical regimental surveillance on their personnel to keep a tab on any possible anti-social or terror affiliations.

“The airport and airline operator usually get their employees verified by the office of the Commissioner of Police. Currently, the costs levied on carrying out such as verification is expensive (Rs 3000 per head). Airlines that have a sizeable attrition rate would hesitate to spend so much on a person, when he/she may leave the organisation. This has to be brought down,” observed an airline official.

Security unsatisfactory

However, the level of security at airports in India are yet to catch up with their counterparts in the United States (US) where, on Friday President Obama okayed new security protocols for people flying into the US.

“Currently, most airports (AAI owned and greenfield) have only x-ray machines, hand held detectors and doorframe metal scanners, while 173 airports across the world have already installed wavelength or full body scanners. There are none in India. The infamous ‘Shoe’ bomber incident in the US, a few years ago also prompted them to install shoe scanners in three airports. We don’t have them here in India as well. It will take another two years to see them at our airports” said a airport security expert.  Airport operators blame bureaucratic hurdles and tardy progress in investment in newer technologies for the security glitches.

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