Tougher airport measures, more restrictions on air passengers

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 27, 2009 03:10 hrs

Canada Saturday introduced tougher security measures at its airports following a failed attempt to blow up a flight in Detroit by an al-Qaeda-linked Nigerian man Friday.

All passengers flying to the US will now be subjected to a second physical search at the airplane boarding gate.

'This includes 100 per cent physical search of person and 100 per cent physical search of carry-on baggage and personal items,'' said an official of the airport screening authority.

Air India already carries out manual searches of carry-on bags on its flight originating from Toronto as the bomb that brought down Kanishka Flight 182 in 1985 was planted here. All 329 people on that flight were killed.

As per instructions issued Saturday, passengers will be allowed only one carry-on baggage now as against two allowed previously.

New security rules also restrict activities by passengers and crew while in US airspace.

'In the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps,' Air Canada said in a statement.

Further, airlines will now cross-check travellers with names of suspected terrorists on 'no-fly' lists.

The new security measures, which led to delays in dozens of flights on the first day, will remain in effect indefinitely, aviation authorities said.

Canadian Transport Minister John Baird said he has instructed aviation officials 'to assume a heightened state of vigilance in light of this incident.

'We've taken immediate action and are currently working with our American counterparts to implement all necessary safety and security measures as appropriate to protect Canadian travelers.''

Added Canadian Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan, 'Security threats to the United States are security threats to Canada. The Canadian government remains fully engaged with the Obama administration on efforts to combat terrorist threats.''

The two ministers jointly said, 'It is clear that Canada is not immune from incidents of terrorism. Canada has disrupted terrorist plots, and has successively tried and convicted terrorists. We will continue to take the appropriate action to protect the safety and security of Canadians.'