Special machines that will scan airline passengers' baggage for explosives are being installed at Bahrain International Airport (BIA), making Bahrain only the second country in the Gulf to introduce new security measures.
"The system has already been operational in the transit area for the past few months and is proving to be a real time saver," said Mohammed Tamer Al Kaabi, director of the project.
"The explosive detection system (EDS) is now in the final stages of being installed and, once operational, will save passengers a lot of time."
Al Kaabi said the system would be able to handle around 3,000 pieces of baggage an hour and eliminate the need for four conventional X-ray machines that presently operate at the arrivals area.
A similar security system already exists in Dubai.
"Frankly, we are a bit late in installing this revolutionary equipment but we are now well on track," said Al Kaabi. "Fortunately, there has not been an incident at the airport and we hope we will not have to deal with one. The new equipment will take our safety standards to a higher level."
Al Kaabi said the elimination of the conventional machines would also create much needed space at the airport as well as enhancing security, since travellers will no longer have to get their bags scanned before they reach the check-in counters.
"The bags will go into the automated machines as soon as the passengers check them in and will be dealt with electronically," he said. "Human intervention will only be necessary if something suspicious is detected."
Al Kaabi said the system would be part of a five-part process.
"The first will be completely automatic and most baggage is expected to go through in that," he said. "If there is something suspicious, the electronic check will be carried out again as part of stage two.
"The third stage - human intervention - will be carried out if doubts are not cleared, and a fourth stage, if needed, will require involvement of the passenger as well."
Al Kaabi said the fifth stage, if it happens, would involve the baggage being destroyed.
He said 38 airlines carried a total of nine million passengers to and from the BIA last year.
"This year, the figure is expected to be slightly more than that," said Al Kaabi. - TradeArabia News Service