Security officials at Male’ International Airport have rejected criticism that increased scrutiny during passenger checks was responsible for the delay of a number of flights yesterday morning, claiming there has been no additional or emergency measures put in place.
In a statement issued by infrastructure giant GMR, which is currently managing and renovating the existing airport site ahead of opening an entirely new terminal to open in 2014, the company said that six international flights were “heavily delayed” on 1 March.
The adoption of new security measures yesterday at the airport that it had not been informed of were alleged to be responsible for the delays.
According to the company, six flights scheduled to take off between 9:00am and 10:00am were unable to leave on time due to the congestion of passengers waiting to pass through security checks to catch their planes.
“These delays were the direct results of additional security measures introduced by the Aviation Security Division,” the company stated. “These measures included the physical hand pat‐down of each departing passenger which led to longer processing times extending the queuing time. These additional measures were not communicated by the Aviation Security Command to GMR Male’ International Airport Pvt. Ltd. or the customer airlines.”
GMR claimed that i a physical pat-down of every passenger after passing through metal detectors was believed to have resulted in flights being delayed during the morning by up to one hour and twenty minutes.
The company added that it was common practice at airports all over the world to use hand-held scanning devices instead during security checks.
“The standard queuing time required under the Concession Agreement is 10 minutes until processing at the x‐ray machine,” GMR stated. “This morning processing time for a large number of passengers was in excess of 40 minutes and as a result, flights could not close check‐in at the allocated time which led to the extensive departure delays.”
GMR claimed that although it was focused on trying to ensure improvements to all areas of airport service during its tenure – particularly by working with airlines and regulators – the company said that the “highest standards” must be maintained without severely impacting the experience of passengers.
In responding to the criticisms, Moosa Habib from the airport’s Aviation Security Command said that no new procedures such as pat downs of all passengers had been put in place during the morning before clearing passengers for their flights.
Habib claimed that many other factors outside their control were also responsible for any delays.
“The security measures are the airport and very important and sometimes they can be strict,” he said. “But there are many factors out of our control that can delay flights.”
Habib told Minivan News that there had not been any changes to security procedures during the morning and that he believed “business operated as normal” with pat-down procedures taking between 20 to 30 seconds per passenger.
A spokesperson for the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) told Minivan News that it had no real role in providing security at the airport.
The spokesperson added that the MNDF currently did not hold any concerns about security at the site.