Virus may mean changes to screening for air controllers

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.



AVIATION Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar revealed yesterday air traffic controllers may be screened electronically instead of being ‘patted down’ after complaints were made about lack of social distancing at the airport.

Controllers at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) reportedly withdrew their labour claiming security personnel at the checkpoint for controllers had not been practising social distancing.

Mr D’ Aguilar said all air traffic controllers have to be screened, as it is a requirement for the airport to operate in compliance with regulations. He said officials are “trying to marry those requirements with the current situation” as they recognise and understand “these are extraordinary circumstances”.

“So the screeners were provided with, and prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, all of the air traffic controllers had to be screened, had to be patted down to ensure that they were carrying nothing on their body,” he said.

“So when COVID-19 began to rise up, all of the screeners were given gloves, masks and a wand to wand them as opposed to patting them. Now the air traffic controllers are saying that social distancing rules require you to be separated by six feet and it presents a problem. Like how do you screen someone from six feet away?”

The minister added protocol is being devised for electronic screening, but controllers may have to enter the facility at a different entrance in order for that to happen.

“Now typically they enter the ramp from a particular entrance but that entrance does not have the capability to screen them electronically. So they’re going to have to be redirected to another ramp or another entrance point where they can be electronically screened I presume.”

He admitted the electronic screening process detects metallic objects and pat-down is needed to find contraband that is non-metallic.

He added Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority is the regulatory agency that is responsible for devising the regime.

He assured the public that the airport is operational and there are currently people in the towers to deal with the light load, but he did not know the number of people working or controllers who had stopped coming to work.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, LPIA is closed to all incoming commercial passengers.


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