Airport security reviewed after dummy bomb not detected

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A report into how undercover officers, posing as passengers, successfully passed through Larnaca airport security with a dummy explosive device and fake knives without being detected was handed to the police chief.

In comments to state radio CyBC on Monday, police spokesperson Christos Andreou said there are ongoing discussions on improving security at the airport after an embarrassing incident.

Andreou told CyBC radio that corrective measures had been taken in the past and would be strengthened to guarantee the highest level of security for passengers and staff.

The issue arose when a secret exercise conducted by the airport security directorate at police headquarters on March 9 revealed security gaps at Larnaca airport, exposing officials.

The operation was part of an exercise ordered by the police director of airport security Yiannakis Xanthou, without informing the Civil Aviation Department and the airport’s managing company.

Police officers carrying out the exercise could easily get the dummy weapons through the airport security checks.

Security checks at the Larnaca airport are carried out by a private company stationed after passport control.

In case of a warning from x-ray scanners, a physical search is carried out, but no alarm was triggered.

The operation was carried out without authorities being informed beforehand, including the transport and justice ministers.

They were reportedly incensed by apparent gaps in security where passenger items are scanned and body checks conducted.

Police Chief Stelios Papatheodorou said security issues detected are not normally made public, adding that corrective measures were taken based on European protocols followed by the civil aviation authority.

On behalf of the airport operators, the communication officer at Hermes Maria Kouroupi assured that all protocols and checks are being followed at the airports as set by European and international law.

She added that authorities at the airport have an open-ended procedure regarding detecting security gaps, with measures taken immediately after they are detected.