Cyprus Mail

Airport security outsourcing by end of year

HERMES Airports, operator of the two international airports on the island, is to be tasked with outsourcing part of airport security to private contractors by the end of the year, Transport Minister Marios Demetriades said on Thursday.

However, the police will retain control of key airport security matters, with private firms taking over subsidiary security-related operations.

“National security at the airports is a police matter and will remain so, there is no question or deviation from this principle.

“Police presence will not only continue, but also the number of officers assigned to security will increase compared to today,” said Demetriades.

The overall aim, the minister said, is to free up police personnel who are currently assigned to duties not directly related to security.

This would allow more police officers than today to be assigned to core security duties.

According to reports earlier this year, a private company will take over security relating to access in controlled areas, passenger and luggage checks, personnel checks, cargo, post, supplies, vehicles and patrols in restricted areas.

Police will continue to be responsible for guarding aircraft and airport areas.

The outsourcing project is expected to be fully rolled out by the end of the year.

Responding to another question by media, the minister said armed soldiers would continue to be stationed at the two airports, “for as long as we deem it necessary.”

Demetriades told the Cyprus Mail that Hermes and civil aviation will be jointly drafting the tender specifications for the contracts to be outsourced to the private sector.

The drafting of the tenders has not begun yet, he added.

Cyprus is one of two countries (the other being Romania) where police officers are seen manning the hand luggage scanners and metal detector arches.

With the outsourcing, the government earlier said it hoped to free some 110 police officers, saving the state some €650,000 per year.

Some of the extra officers would be posted to passport control, an area where delays have been experienced repeatedly.

But it is not yet clear who would be footing the bill for the private security – passengers or taxpayers at large.

Hermes Airports Ltd assumed management and control of the Larnaca and Paphos airports in May 2006, under a 25-year BOT (build-operate-transfer) concession agreement with the Republic of Cyprus.

Hermes is a company registered in Cyprus – an international consortium of nine shareholders, representing a mix of Cypriot and international partners. The major shareholders in Hermes Airports are: French construction group Bouygues Batiment International (22 per cent), French infrastructure group Egis Projects (20 per cent), Cyprus Trading Corporation (11.34 per cent) and Hellenic Mining (11.33 per cent).

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