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Call to send troops into airports

Press Association | August 13 2006

Troops should be sent into major airports to help with security checks and ease delays in the wake of Thursday's bomb plot security alert. shadow home secretary David Davis said.

A third of flights due to leave Heathrow on Sunday have been cancelled despite a plea by the airlines for measures to alleviate the problems caused by new anti-terror measures.

Airlines are at loggerheads with operator British Airports Authority (BAA) over who is to blame for the continuing delays and cancellations.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh accused BAA of being unable to deal with increased security and budget airline Ryanair called for urgent Government action to stop airports grinding to a halt.

Home Secretary John Reid said that the ultra-tight security measures would be "time limited" and said the Government was working closely with all parties.

But Mr Davis suggested Britain should follow the example of the US and draft in the security forces to help out.

"In America, for example, troops are being used - probably National Guardsmen I imagine - to help with the searches and help with the security oversight, which accelerates it somewhat.

"It may well be that the smart thing for the Government to do now is to see whether or not they can divert some resources to helping out BAA.

"BAA are clearly not set up for this level of scrutiny and it does seem to me there is an argument for some resources being put in there, and put in there quickly, to try and rescue as many holidays as we possibly can."

BAA's chief executive officer for Heathrow, Tony Douglas, blamed the measures themselves, saying they were "not sustainable". And they were backed by some other airlines.

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