CI airports’ security heightened

Increased security measures were implemented at Cayman’s airports yesterday following a foiled plot to blow up commercial US airplanes mid-flight between Britain and the United States.

Passengers wait to check in for their flights outside Heathrow Airport

Passengers wait to check in for their flights outside Heathrow Airport, London Thursday. Following a thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up several aircraft flying to the United States, officials raised security to its highest level and banned hand-carried luggage on all trans-Atlantic flights. Cayman’s airports adopted increased security measures in support of US directives. Photo: AP

The measures were adopted in support of US directives.

There had been no known flight delays or cancellations at the Owen Roberts International Airport as of noon yesterday, but some delays could be expected, said airport officials.

Airlines were advising passengers to arrive at least three hours prior to flight departure to avoid delays.

According to a GIS press release, the following enhanced security measures have been applied to airline passengers departing the Cayman Islands.

No liquids or gels were to be permitted to enter the sterile area through the screening checkpoint or be in accessible property or on one’s person, except: baby formula, breast milk, or juice for a baby; prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger’s ticket; insulin and essential other non-prescription medicines.

Passengers were not permitted to take liquids and gels purchased inside the sterile area on board the aircraft.

Liquids and gels include beverages, shampoo, suntan lotion, creams, toothpaste, hair gel.

Passengers were being asked to pack all liquid items, except those exempted, into checked luggage, in order to avoid delays at screening checkpoints.

Searches were also to be done while boarding, and passengers who did not submit to search were to be refused boarding, said the release.

All footwear was to be removed and x-ray screened.

Passengers were also being advised to travel light to expedite screening.

Signage and advisories would be posted in the airport for passengers, and the measures would also apply to staff and those entering restricted areas of the airport.

Immigration and police presence was also to be increased at the airport.

The enhanced security was implemented following an emergency meeting of airline representatives, airport security and law enforcement personnel, along with staff of duty-free shops, and was organised by Senior Manager of Airport Operations, Kerith McCoy yesterday morning.

Mr. McCoy explained that the Cayman Islands’ aviation security measures are directed by the UK Department for Transport. However, with the threat being to US airlines, the CIAA will facilitate implementation of US directives to carriers flying to the US.

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has determined that there is a high risk of terrorism against U.S. civil aviation, and the need for extra restrictions to assure the security of air travel.

Mr. McCoy noted, in the press release, that airlines may also choose to follow more stringent security measures, and the public would be informed of if any of these are put in place.

British Airways confirmed the airline would adopt the US security measures on its flights from Cayman.

BA customers travelling to the UK from overseas airports may be subject to local airport restrictions and therefore customers should plan to travel with the very minimum of hand luggage, the airline advised. No electrical or battery-powered items including laptops, mobile phones, ipods or remote controls, can be carried in the cabin and must be checked in as hold baggage, notifies the airline.

The British Airways flight scheduled to arrive in Grand Cayman today from London and to depart this evening again for London was expected to operate as normal, according to airport sources yesterday.

When asked about the potential effects the security threats in the US and UK could have on Cayman’s tourism Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford said, ‘At this early stage we are in contact with our airline partners to determine potential affects and how we can best work with them through this situation.’

Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights in and out of London on Thursday after the foiled bomb threat sparked a security alert, throwing airports into chaos.

Airlines banned hand luggage on flights out of the UK and warned of severe delays at Heathrow Airport.

Thousands of passengers were stranded after British Airways and other UK carriers said they were halting hundreds of short haul flights out of London airports, while planes bound from Europe into Heathrow were temporarily grounded.

Passengers were told to stay away from the airport because of severe delays caused by heightened security checks.