Starting on September 1, passengers departing from Swiss airports may have their hands swabbed to look for signs of explosives. The new policy comes following a bilateral air travel security agreement with the European Union.
The random checks will apply to passengers as well as their hand luggage. At Zurich Airport the procedure will involve taking samples from the hand and waist area, and inspecting these with a device that can detect residue leftover from explosives.
With the help of chemical analysis, test results should appear within seconds. As Zurich Airport announced in a media release on Wednesday, the inspections are not a health hazard. They do not involve any radioactivity. The 36 new detectors cost CHF2.6 million ($2.8 million). Some 900 are being trained to use them.
In addition to using the new sample-based tests, security personnel can still check passengers for explosives manually. The rules for the air transport of liquids and dangerous items remain unchanged.
The new policy will also apply to the Swiss airports in Basel, Bern and Geneva, as well as to all airports within the European Union (EU). Although not a member, Switzerland has numerous bilateral accords with the EU.
swissinfo.ch with agencies