August 10, 2006

Airport security measures to expand

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The government plans to expand
airport security measures starting as soon as Friday, adding to
those just put in place in response to a foiled overseas plot
to blow up U.S.-bound airliners, industry and other officials

The changes triggered by the discovery of a British-based
plot to carry aboard bomb-making ingredients disguised as
beverages and other common items mark the most urgent aviation
security steps since the September 11 hijack attacks.

Beginning on Friday, security screening of carry-on items
will expand significantly from levels imposed at two dozen
cities on Thursday, said Jim May, chief executive of the Air
Transport Association, at a news conference.

The trade group for the biggest airlines said the changes
would involve additional checks at boarding gates but offered
no details.

The Transportation Security Administration said in a
statement on its Web site that there will be more hand searches
of bags at security checkpoints and a bag check at the gate
immediately prior to boarding the aircraft.

Authorities have banned travelers from carrying liquids and
other gel-based products such as toothpaste and makeup onto
planes. Those items are permitted in checked luggage.

Additional security steps include:

-National Guard forces activated in Massachusetts and
California will assist airport screeners. About 300 California
National Guard troops will start deployments as early as 5:00
a.m. Pacific Time/1200 GMT on Friday at San Francisco, Oakland
and Los Angeles airports, a Guard spokesman said.

-Certain private air services from Britain must coordinate
with U.S. aviation and security authorities for permission to
fly. The Federal Aviation Administration order will likely
affect business jets and other private aircraft. Big commercial
carriers already have security programs in place.

-Airlines departing Britain must supply a passenger
manifest to U.S. authorities ahead of takeoff, May said.
Currently, carriers can give that information for checks
against watch lists soon after the plane leaves.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Houston and Eric
Auchard in San Francisco)