Singapore

Travellers may face tighter arrival checks

ICA trial may be first step to enhancing security at Changi Airport

Travellers arriving at Changi Airport may have their passports checked more than once in the future following a recent trial to enhance security.

Several travellers who landed at Changi Airport Terminal 3 were caught by surprise over the last few months when their photos were taken and passports checked when they stepped off the aircraft.

They also went through the normal immigration checks before collecting their bags.

While random checks just after arrival are not new, albeit rare at Changi, these have so far been limited mainly to bag checks and metal detectors.

The recent extra layer of screening, which was part of a trial which ended last month by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, suggests there are plans to step up overall surveillance, security experts said.

When contacted, an ICA spokesman explained that the checks was to screen passports of passengers on certain flights against Interpol's database of stolen and lost travel documents.

She said: "The trial aims to enhance the security of Changi Airport and its passengers... This is part of our security measures, which are reviewed from time to time, taking into account the prevailing security threat."

ICA did not comment further, including on whether it plans to eventually introduce such checks for all arriving passengers.

The Straits Times understands that the intention is to help catch contraband and verify passengers' identities, especially of those on transit.

This is part of our security measures, which are reviewed from time to time, taking into account the prevailing security threat. an ICA spokesman

They make up about a third of Changi Airport's passengers, which numbered more than 55.4 million last year. But what it also means is double screening for those who end their journeys in Singapore.

Unlike most other major airports, arriving and departing passengers can mix at Changi Airport's terminals.

The challenge is to ensure that arriving passengers do not pass items that may be prohibited or dangerous to those who are departing.

Singapore Management University's Assistant Professor Terence Fan, who specialises in transport, said it is "a tough balancing act" to ensure safe skies on the one hand and passenger convenience on the other.

Where heightened checks are deemed necessary, the key is to ensure that this is done without significant delays so it does not put travellers off, he stressed.

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