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9/11 security arrives at Yk international

John King
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 14/05) - What's in store for airport security in Yellowknife starting Jan. 1 is right out of a science fiction novel.

Biometric identification and complete baggage screening will be in place in the New Year, said Marvin C. Ringham, building and planning manager for airports across the NWT.

"The main security feature that's being implemented is that we are now screening checked bags. Previously it was just passengers and their carry-on bags," Ringham said.

After the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, the federal government tightened airport security through the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act.

Yellowknifer was taken on a tour of the city's new outbound baggage room.

The room seemed much like a regular customer baggage pick-up area, with a familiar baggage carousel, but above it was an extensive conveyor system where bags go through the five levels of security screening.

"The system can push through about 600 to 650 bags per hour," Ringham said.

A biometric identification system will also be a reality for workers at the Yellowknife airport early next year, said Ringham.

"With the new passes, there is an iris scan as well as a finger scan," Ringham said.

Airflight employees such as pilots will give their iris and fingerprint information which will be computed into a personal code contained in the identification card.

Airport Manager Michel Lafrance, said these new measures will increase the security of passengers and shouldn't make the process of air travel any longer.

"Baggage in 89 airports across Canada are now going to be screened," Lafrance said.

"Yellowknife carries more than 400,000 passengers a year. We are part of the big picture to make Canadian air travel safer."