National Security Council approves new airport protection system

US airport, photo: CTK

The National Security Council on Tuesday approved a new, much stricter airport protection system which includes the possibility of armed guards on board planes. Daniela Lazarova has been following the story and joins me in the studio now. Daniela is this move in response to US demands for there to be armed guards aboard all planes flying to the Unites States?

US airport,  photo: CTK
Not directly, no. It's in response to the international situation, the heightened threat of terrorism and it is also a move necessitated by the country's entry into the EU in May. The new protection system will provide the kind of security that an EU member state would be expected to have.

So what measures are we talking about specifically?

Well, you already mentioned the possibility of armed guards aboard planes. Not many people are aware of this but Czech Airlines already uses armed guards on its flights to Israel and is prepared to have them on flights to other countries upon request. According to an airlines spokesman the guards use weapons that cannot damage the body of the aircraft, which is obviously very important for passenger safety.

But the main focus is on security on the ground - and that involves more security guards on airport premises, more thorough passenger and luggage checks, better detection equipment and so on. Also there will be much stricter security for airport personnel, both for ground personnel and crew. Restricted access to certain parts of the airport, screening and so on. Airport personnel will also undergo regular training in what to do in an emergency, evacuation training and that kind of thing. In the event of a heightened security threat - the army would help in patrolling the grounds as they have on other occasions in the past.

How will all this affect passengers?

Well, according to the transport minister Milan Simonovsky passengers should "barely notice the changes" - as he put it, meaning that there should be no significant delays or inconvenience. However, I think that at this point -like passengers all over the world - Czechs are prepared to suffer some inconvenience in return for greater security.