Swiss airports to start spot bomb checks

Malcolm Curtis
Malcolm Curtis - [email protected]
Swiss airports to start spot bomb checks
Photo: Zurich airport

Passengers flying out of Swiss airports will potentially face an extra level of screening starting next week when a new process to detect explosives will go into effect.


The bomb check, to start next Tuesday (September 1st), will be introduced at all airports in Switzerland as a standard procedure directly after plane travelers are subjected to a metal detector, officials at Zurich airport said on Wednesday.

The security measure conforms with requirements demanded by the European Union, where the same safety checks will begin at EU airports on the same day.

Under the new measures, passengers will be selected randomly by a computer for the tests using explosives trace detection devices (ETDs), the Zurich airport said in a news release.

The device will take samples from the hands and the waist area of passengers in the spot checks.

The samples will be analyzed for chemicals within a matter of seconds using technology that is “absolutely harmless” without the use of a radioactive source, the airport said.

Carry-on luggage will also be subject to extra controls.

The rules on prohibited items and liquids in hand luggage remains unchanged, the airport added.

Although the margin for error with the new detectors is extremely low, false alarms cannot be excluded, officials said at press conference, the ATS news agency reported.

If a passenger touched fireworks (which are banned from hand luggage) shortly before his or her trip, this could trigger a response from the detection device.

The new test will not replace body searches, which will continue to be conducted, ATS said.

Zurich airport has invested 2.6 million francs to acquire 36 of the explosives detectors and it has trained 900 employees in their use.

Other Swiss airports, such as those in Geneva and Basel, have taken similar steps.


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