Broadcast: Monday 25 February 2008 08:00 PM
Andrew Gilligan investigates the priorities and business tactics of the airports industry, asking how secure our airports are and who will be the winners and losers from airport expansion?
Checking-in To Airport Chaos
With ever-increasing numbers of passengers passing through their terminals, Britain's airports are raking in huge profits - which are only set to get bigger as they seek expansion through extra runways or terminals. But matching the increase in passenger numbers is the threat from terrorism and concerns about the environment.
In this edition of Dispatches, reporter Andrew Gilligan investigates the priorities and business tactics of the airports industry, asking how secure our airports are and who will be the winners and losers from airport expansion?
The foiled terrorist attacks at London Heathrow and Glasgow airports have seen an unprecedented heightening of security at Britain's airports. But how effective are these new Government-imposed measures? Dispatches reveals how the current restrictions on fluid would not prevent terrorists detonating a liquid bomb and questions whether the focus on weapon-seeking technology and body-searches at security gates is the most effective way of preventing breaches.
Gilligan meets a security expert who criticises the way in which security processes have simply played catch-up with terrorist attempts over the years instead of proactively seeking new means of prevention.
Britain's airport operators claim to place passenger's travel experiences first but Dispatches reveals how some have been slow to react to security pressures. Some airports have seen security queues measuring up to a quarter of a mile long, snaking out into the terminal, delaying passengers and potentially causing further security risks.
Long queues are only one area in which British airports have been criticised for poor service. The aviation industry claim good levels of passenger satisfaction based on the results of surveys it has carried out but Dispatches uncovers discrepancies between the way in which the results are calculated and the reality. The programme also examines the way in which retail opportunities in airports are exploited for maximum profits and questions whether airport shops offer value for money.
Gilligan's investigation looks into proposed airport expansions, in particular Heathrow Airport's third runway, and uncovers the mistrust over the way statistics have been gathered to support these bids.
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