Passengers See 'Chaos' After New Ben-Gurion Security Measures

Airline representatives fear new security measures could cause flight delays.

New security measures put into place at Ben-Gurion International Airport this week are likely to lengthen the already long lines of passengers during the frenzied Passover season, airline representatives told Haaretz.

Guidelines from the Transportation Ministry stipulate that for the first time passengers flying abroad will have to present passports upon boarding flights in Terminal 3 - the main international terminal - along with their boarding passes.

Airlines will also be required to maintain up-to-date passenger lists for two weeks after flights leave Israel, to be submitted to the authorities at the ministry's request.

Airline representatives fear the stricter security regulations will prolong the process of handling boarding passes and lead to flight delays, and that they may even be required to hire additional employees to conduct the checks.

Last week airline officials at Ben-Gurion complained to the Israel Airports Authority that shortages in security personnel were leading to flight delays.

The officials told Haaretz that most lacking are personnel to check passengers' hand luggage before boarding. One of them described the situation as "intolerable."

The Passover holiday season seemed to be in full swing on Tuesday, as winding lines of passengers snaked around Terminal 3. "This is bedlam - there are huge lines of passengers extending outside Terminal 3. This is complete chaos," said one traveler. "The situation is catastrophic. Everyone is doing his own thing - a complete mess."

The Airports Authority dismissed the complaints as "an exaggeration not in line with the real situation in the terminal.

"Passenger security is our foremost priority, and these checks are aimed at assuring fliers' safety. In the coming weeks - during the Passover holiday and later, over the summer months - the presence of security personnel will grow significantly," a representative said.

A high-ranking Transportation Ministry official said yesterday: "We are not expecting any special delays due to the new instructions. These are regulations that exist in airports around the world and will be enforced in accordance with the criteria laid out by the International Civil Aviation Organization in an effort to bolster civil aviation security."

Airports Authority figures indicate that 555,000 passengers are expected to pass through Ben-Gurion during the Passover holiday, a 19 percent rise from last year.