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Swiss airlines and airports step up security

Swissair has yet to resume flights to and from the US

(swissinfo.ch)

Swissair has announced it will step up flight security to comply with tighter measures ordered by the United States' Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The move comes in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

In a statement on Friday, the Swissair Group said it could fulfil all the obligations regarding security that have been laid down by the FAA for the resumption of flights to the US.

Swissair spokesman Jean-Claude Donzel revealed that there would be "very severe security measures" implemented for flights to the US. "If we want to fly to the States we have to accept these new measures, and Swissair is in a position to do it," he added.

Swissair again had to cancel all of its flights to the US and Canada on Friday while awaiting the green light from the FAA to resume operations. For the moment only American and Canadian airlines, along with the Israeli carrier El Al, have received the necessary authorisation.

The FAA's 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.

Ban on knives

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.

Meanwhile, Swissair and its Balair charter subsidiary have resumed flights to the US, while the Swiss airline, Crossair, has resumed flights into London's City airport. The British government had banned flights into the airport, which lies in the centre of London, following the attacks in the US.

swissinfo with agencies

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