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Air travellers face lengthy delays

Weary passengers wait to check-in at Geneva airport


Swissair has resumed flights to the United States, amid tight security, five days after terrorists rammed hijacked passenger planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Passengers had to endure long queues and delays at Swiss airports.

"Each piece of luggage has to be individually checked, as well as suitcases and hand baggage," said Swissair spokesman, Urs Peter Naef.

The national carrier introduced the heightened security to comply with measures ordered by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to gain approval to resume flights to the US.

Compounding the delays was a strike by Swissair personnel at Geneva airport. Some 500 employees were protesting at the cash-strapped carrier's plans to cut 1,250 jobs.

Bomb detectors

The FAA's new security measures include searches of all planes before passengers board, increased use of sniffer dogs or explosive detection machines for checked luggage, and increased use of hand-held metal detectors for passengers and searches of hand luggage.

There will also be random identification checks of all passengers, identification checks of employees and vendors, and all luggage must be processed through the check-in desk.

All knives and other cutting tools, including plastic ones, will be banned. Previously knives smaller than four inches long, such as Swiss Army knives, were allowed on board.

That measure was introduced because passengers on the hijacked airliners, who were reportedly in contact with the ground via mobile phones, said the attackers were armed with only knives and cardboard cutters.

Andreas Siegenthaler, spokesman for Unique, Zurich airport's operator, said passengers travelling to the US would have to get used to checking in earlier for flights to the US because of the new security measures.

swissinfo with agencies


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