Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140 - 159)



  140. That would be from now on?
  (Mr Toms) Yes, indeed.

  141. The point is how much extra you have had to do already.
  (Mr Toms) Our estimate for this financial year, I say, is around £4 million at the London airports and for next year, as a broad estimate, probably around £10 million.

  142. Have you given general advice to your airports?
  (Mr Toms) On the level of security?

  143. Yes.
  (Mr Toms) We have given a great deal of advice on this.

  144. Is Manchester one of your members?
  (Mr Anderson) It is an AOA member, not part of the BAA. I think it is important to emphasise that the security measures at airports are determined by the Government through the National Aviation Security Programme.

  Chairman: I was not suggesting that.

Mr Donohoe

  145. As somebody who regularly goes through airports and has been through airports two times a week, three times a week, since 11 September, I have to say that I have not seen all that much difference in terms of security at all. Immediately after it, yes, there was, but subsequent to that there has been very little, if any, increase in security noticeable to the passenger. Is that just me or is it the fact, as the Chairman has already said, that the level of security is very, very high in any event in British airports? You are not putting a case that is strong, are you, on the basis of what the passengers see because they do not see it?
  (Mr Anderson) An individual passenger might not necessarily perceive a change because, without going into detail, it is to do with percentages. So as an individual you might get searched or you might not but you would have no idea what the percentage was of people being searched.


  146. I am sorry to return to this. This Committee did a detailed report on safety, as you know, some time ago. We also looked at the means of mechanical aids which could be used and at the expense of that very high quality security equipment and lots of airports chose not to go down that particular route. You have not come here this afternoon and said "we have had to spend a vast amount on different equipment which is calibrated in a different way and which has a much higher standard of security", nor have you told us "we have trained vast numbers of extra security operatives". I think this is a valid question.
  (Mr Anderson) I agree it is a valid question and you did ask me before to put a percentage on it and for my airport I would say 10 to 12 per cent.

  147. Do you want to guess, Mr Jowett?
  (Mr Jowett) A guess would be something under 10 per cent for the industry as a whole. I think BAA might have a number which would substantiate that. Our numbers overall are a lot more modest than the ones that the airlines were giving evidence about earlier this afternoon.

Mr Donohoe

  148. Do you pay for the policing, for the Met in London? Is that an additional cost?
  (Mr Anderson) Only designated airports pay for policing, so Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham pay for policing, the other airports do not. That is something that you will have noticed as you travel through airports, that most airports currently have armed police present and that is an initiative by the Association of Chief Police Officers.
  (Mr Jowett) It is one of the areas that we are concerned might be an additional cost, which we have not yet been able to identify, which may be incurred on the industry in due course. At this time we are not paying for those additional police but it has been suggested by some forces that a charge might at some future time arise.

Mrs Ellman

  149. You give the impression of being very reactive but are you actually identifying security issues or are you held back because you are not sure who is going to pay?
  (Mr Anderson) Not at all, no. We are extremely proactive. As soon as the events of 11 September occurred all airports introduced their own enhanced security measures. So as soon as the Government Circulars landed we were effectively already doing it.
  (Mr Toms) Might I answer that. We would resist the description of us as solely reactive in this case. If I may illustrate the point. On September 11th itself when we received the first notification of the first strike BAA immediately put its airports on to red alert, all airports, without waiting for any direction from the Department of Transport's Transec Division and raised the rate of security very substantially. That was done without any reference to requirements.

Miss McIntosh

  150. Are you convinced that international airports, third country and non-EU airports are doing as much as UK airports are doing?
  (Mr Toms) I have to say it is very difficult to speak on a subject in which the population is so large. The best evidence we can take on this is the large number of enquiries we have received from third country airports and governments asking us what we do and asking us for advice on how we might help them to improve their security measures. I think it is fair to say that the level of security is very patchy but people are now focused much more on bringing the standards of all up to the best.

  151. Following my earlier question to the other witnesses, is there any evidence, for example, that airports like Manchester Airport are laying off security guards because the forecast of passengers is less than anticipated, particularly by charter?
  (Mr Anderson) What I would like to say about that is I have spoken today to the Managing Director of Manchester Airport and he has said absolutely what Mr Parker-Eaton said earlier, that there is no diminution of security standards at Manchester Airport and they implement the requirements to the letter.

  152. The point I am trying to make is that 200 security guards will go, is that because the projections of traffic are down?
  (Mr Anderson) They are running their business in a business-like way and that is something they have got to answer in detail. That is an input, if you like. What I am talking about is the outputs on which they have given an assurance.

  Miss McIntosh: Who does the checks and what checks are done on the backgrounds of people employed in security?

  Chairman: There has been no alteration in the normal way of checking safety at airports.

Miss McIntosh

  153. I am talking about people with criminal records who apply to work in the security of airports.
  (Mr Anderson) It comes through the Government departments.


  154. There has been no change in the way these things are done?
  (Mr Anderson) No.

  The Committee suspended from 5.32 pm to 5.42 pm for a division in the House.

Miss McIntosh

  155. Has there been an increase in bomb alerts at airports over the last year? Secondly, what is the cost of screening of hand luggage to go in the hold? Would you make it a requirement that hand luggage should go into the hold and be checked in rather than be allowed as hand luggage?
  (Mr Toms) I am afraid I do not have the figures for you on bomb alerts. We can certainly get that for you and convey it on. In relation to hand baggage, the requirement is a requirement which would be established by the Transec Division of the Department of Transport and we would react to it accordingly. At the moment, as I am sure you know, we do screen all hull baggage anyway and we screen the proportion of hand baggage as required by the Department.

  156. Is it possible Leeds Bradford has any comparisons since September 11th as to what the passenger freight has been in comparison with rail traffic from Leeds Station? Do you have any comparisons?
  (Mr Anderson) Passenger carryings?

  157. Yes.
  (Mr Anderson) Our Heathrow traffic is significantly down but, as I mentioned before, we were comparing with a year ago when everyone was desperate to get a flight to London. From memory, our Heathrow traffic has been in excess of 25 per cent down with that other factor built in.

  158. One of the unions is proposing that body checks be introduced for all travellers, as already happens at Berlin Airport. Would you support such a move and would that increase your costs?
  (Mr Jowett) It is being considered and discussed in working groups set up under the Department's governance. It is early days yet to come to a conclusion. It would certainly add time to passengers going through the airport and it would add to costs. Alternative technological answers are obviously also being considered, use of biometrics and other secure systems passing passengers through under close consideration. Can I also just come back on an earlier question when Miss McIntosh asked a question about the percentage of increase in security costs. The £15 million additional cost that we are currently incurring, and I have to put that in context, that is the current additional cost and does not take account of the additional capital expenditure sums which we are pretty sure are going to be around the corner with new proposals coming in, we believe on a consensus that is about five to 10 per cent additional cost to our industry. I would like, also, to clarify what I said earlier when I said it is a small modest amount compared with the airlines. The airlines, I think, earlier talked about an additional security charge, they were asking the Government to help them with, of £5 per passenger. The figures that we are directly incurring at the moment are about 10 pence a departing passenger from the UK airports.


  159. Largely because you started from a fairly high base?
  (Mr Jowett) Because we started from a high base, doubtless the airlines have costs at the other end.

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