Theresa Villiers backs air security levels

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The Independent Travel

Airport security will have to stay at a high level because of the "real and ongoing threat" of terrorism, Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers said today.

But she added that it should be "entirely possible" for airports to maintain high security but do it in a "passenger-friendly way".

Ms Villiers was speaking at Gatwick as she officially opened a new £45 million security area at the West Sussex airport's south terminal.

"We must maintain security levels as we face a real and ongoing threat from international terrorism," said Ms Villiers.

She went on: "It's vital we maintain security but there are ways of doing it in a more passenger-friendly way.

"It's entirely possible to do two things at once - maintain the highest levels of security and deliver them in a passenger-friendly way."

The new security area at Gatwick should lead to each passenger being processed in under five minutes.

The 19 new security lanes will allow almost 5,000 people per hour to pass straight through to the departure lounge.

The lanes include two just for families with young children and passengers with reduced mobility, and two for passengers travelling first-class or business-class.

Before they go through security, passengers will get instructions on large screens in five languages to help them understand exactly what they can and cannot take through.

Also, passengers travelling through the new security area will benefit from security access gates where passengers simply swipe their boarding card or Smartphone displaying their boarding card.

Another feature is the colour-coded lanes with screens displaying the actual queue time, enabling passengers to choose the lane they want to use.

Passengers appeared pleased with the new facility today.

"People seem to be moving through quite quickly," said Stephen Pattinson, from Maidstone, Kent, who was travelling with his wife Valerie.

Another couple, Trevor and Elizabeth Owen, from Douglas, Isle of Man, said: "It looks an improvement."