by Bryce Wirzba
Airport scanners are coming to the city.
Regina International Airport doesn’t expect the scanners until sometime in June or July. Jim Hunter, president and CEO of Regina International Airport, was unsure whether the institution of these scanners was necessary for airports.
When asked about the current state of security, he said “if I didn’t think it was sufficient, I wouldn’t let passengers get on the airplane.”
Pearson International Airport Toronto introduced its first full-body scanner on Jan. 21. It is the first airport in Canada to implement the technology.
In a government press release, Mike Baird, transport minister, said “given the recent terrorist incident on December 25, our government is accelerating its actions to protect air travelers.”
The Canadian Airport Transport Security Agency, an umbrella of Transport Canada, is the agency responsible for providing security in Canadian airports. CATSA intends to implement these scanners, initially for Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
Mathieu Larocque, senior advisor of communications at CATSA believes that the scanners are a step in the right direction. “Security screening will obviously remain a critical aspect of national security in Canada and with these scanners it will still remain a critical aspect of security,” he said.
Larocque said that CATSA is working closely with airport authorities to ensure that implementation of the scanners are done properly and efficiently. It has not finalized scanner deployment plans for every airport.
Passenger waiting time is a concern. Passengers waiting longer or shorter because of scanner use is unclear. “I think it (will) make it more thorough but I don’t think it will speed things up,” Hunter said.
“I don’t think it’s necessary, (but) I think it’s more efficient,” said Josh Fleming, a University of Regina student.
Alana Lawrence, spokeswoman for Vancouver International Airport, sees the scanners as a good thing, saying “we definitely welcome any security measures that CATSA puts in place at our airport.”
Scott Armstrong, spokesman for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, said that the airport has had no concerns with the scanners.
“We’ve worked closely with CATSA and Transport Canada to get them in place quickly and that process has gone well,” he said.
Finding a suitable designated place for these scanners is an issue that airports will have to wrestle with.
“Trying to figure out if we are constrained to build a segregation area (and) where’d we put it,” is a concern said Hunter.
While the public has questions, CATSA and airport authorities in several cities are providing little information to the public.
Lloyd McCoomb, president and CEO of the GTAA, and Bernie Humphreys, director of operations at Calgary International Airport, declined to comment on the issue.
Donna Call, spokeswoman for Edmonton International Airport, was unwilling to talk about the new security measure, saying “we cannot speak to that…it is a CATSA initiative, not an airport initiative.”
Alex Hauszner, CATSA regional manager, said he was unable to comment about the scanners, saying that the information was ‘security-related.’