Gov't announces airport ID-card trials

Manchester and London City airports will roll out ID cards to airside workers in late 2009, half a year after the planned start

The Home Office has announced the first trials of ID cards for airside workers. ID cards will be trialled at two airports from autumn 2009.

"Manchester and London City airports have agreed to work with the Home Office as part of the first wave of airports and will help develop detailed plans for introducing identity cards from autumn 2009," the Home Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

Airside workers will not be expected to pay for their cards, said the Home Office. ID cards are expected to be priced at £30.

James Hall, chief executive of the Identity and Passport Service, said: "Confirming our plans for identity cards for airside workers is a major step in delivering the National Identity Scheme. We believe delivering the highest possible level of identity assurance for critical workers will bring real benefits to employers, employees and the public."

Both London City Airport chief executive Richard Gooding and Manchester Airport Group chief executive Geoff Muirhead said they welcomed the scheme.

"Providing a safe and secure environment to staff working on site at London City Airport is fundamental to our business," said Gooding. "We look forward to working closely with the Home Office to roll out the new cards for all staff with airside access."

However, the British Air Transport Association (Bata), which represents airlines' interests, said its members would not participate voluntarily in the scheme, as they did not believe it would improve security.

"Up until now we have not seen any process that will deliver a benefit, just extra processes and costs," said Roger Wiltshire, Bata secretary general. "We will not be volunteering for the trials."

Wiltshire added there was a question as to whether the scheme would "see the light of day" after the next general election, given both Conservative and Liberal Democrat political opposition to ID cards.

Bata said in July that its members felt they were being used as "guinea pigs" for the scheme.


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