Concerns raised over new £6.6 million security scanners for Cardiff Airport
The Chair of the Senedd’s Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee has raised concerns over the Welsh Government’s investment of £6.6 million in new security scanners at Cardiff Airport.
The upgraded scanners are required under the UK Government’s aviation security regulations which stipulate that by June 2024, all UK airports that were handling over 1 million passengers annually in 2019, will be required to replac 2-D cabin baggage screening machines with Next Generation Security (NGS) 3-D scanners.
As well as dealing with security risks, the new scanners will enable passengers to leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on baggage, reducing the time taken to pass through security screening.
The government says without these scanners, Cardiff Airport would have to terminate commercial passenger operations by the regulatory deadline of June 2024.
Committee chair Mark Isherwood MS said: “The decision to invest a further £6.6 million of public money in Cardiff Airport adds to the Committee’s growing concerns about value-for-money, whilst acknowledging the necessity of installing the new security scanners.
“The Committee will consider this latest announcement carefully, as part of our ongoing scrutiny. Holding Welsh Government to account, and keeping a close eye on developments, the Committee will want to learn more about the Welsh Government’s future spending plans for the Airport, and the consequent benefits to Wales and the passengers travelling through the airport.”
In a written statement, Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change said the installation of the scanners, “is part of the airport’s planned capital investment programme, agreed with the Welsh Government as part of its pandemic rescue and restructuring plan”.
Addressing the cost of the new scanners, he added: “…as experienced by many other airports across the UK, the cost of installing the scanners at Cardiff Airport has escalated significantly from initial estimates. This is partly due to inflation but also due to the complexity of installing the equipment in a 1970’s era building; a process which has required the safe removal of asbestos in a live operational environment.
“Cardiff Airport is still recovering from the devastating impact on its business from the pandemic. The airport has recovered by 58% so far with 28 of the 52 non-stop routes historically serviced, back up and running, and facilitating 910k passengers last year. There remain inflationary and other pressures on the airport’s cost base.
“Whilst aviation security is a reserved matter for the UK Government, it has consistently refused to provide any financial support for the respective UK airports to make the transition to NGS to meet the new legislated deadlines, despite the ongoing inflationary pressures on the industry.”
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