Airport’s new luggage scanner unlikely to be ready for July

GUERNSEY’S new £12m. hold luggage scanning equipment looks unlikely to be ready in time for the 1 July relaxation of the border restrictions.

 Guernsey Airport. Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29349215)
Guernsey Airport. Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29349215)

The work on the airport project finally started in January, more than five years after Guernsey Airport was first warned by the UK Department for Transport that the new kit would be required.

A completion date of spring 2021 was originally published, but the second lockdown has now pushed that back to late summer. Guernsey Airport has not given an indication of what it would define late summer as.

It is hoped that Guernsey will relax its current quarantine for arrivals on 1 July.

However, the hold luggage screening checks bags of outbound passengers, so people are likely to be leaving the island in June, with plans to come back in July.

It also planned that quarantine requirements could be reduced from the end of April for areas with low rates of Covid-19, which is also likely to spur travel.

Guernsey Ports’ head of passenger operations and aviation security, Steve Langlois, said work had been progressing at the western end of the passenger terminal to extend the building for the two new scanning machines.

‘Works by the local contractors resumed as we entered stage two following appropriate public health measures and guidelines,’ he said.

‘The hold baggage scanners and conveyor equipment are currently being manufactured by specialist companies in the UK and these companies will be required to install this equipment.

‘Unfortunately, due to the impact of the second lockdown and critical worker requirements for Covid-19, this has led to a rescheduling of the overall programme. However, elements of construction work planned for later in the project are being undertaken earlier than planned to make up for some lost time.

‘Overall, this has had some impact on the installation of the new system to late summer 2021, but the project team continue to work on bringing forward the implementation date.’

Hold luggage has had to be manually searched since last autumn, after the regulator refused to grant another extension to allow Guernsey Airport to operate below the current aviation security standards.

Even during lockdown, when few people have been travelling, the delay in having hold luggage searched by hand in departures has caused flight delays and resulted in Guernsey Airport putting out daily warnings that people should get to the airport extra early.

Mr Langlois said only a small number of passengers were subject to the checks.

‘We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience they may experience and thank them for their patience and understanding at this time,’ he said.

‘Passengers should allow plenty of time to complete check-in and security requirements in order to meet their flight on time.’

Guernsey Airport did not respond to a query asking whether it had considered finding ways to speed up the checks or expand the search area.

Currently an area by the check-in desks has been cordoned off to allow for up to three hold bags to be opened up and fully checked.

This takes about 10 minutes, and in some cases some items are taken away to be x-rayed.

Currently Aurigny has been mainly flying its ATRs, which have 72 seats, but once passenger numbers rise it is likely the 122-seat jet will come back into regular service.

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News