Schiphol buys 60 body scanners, denies lax security

Mon Jan 4, 2010 1:58pm EST

* Body scanners to be used for flights to United States

* First 20 scanners to be bought shortly, others later

AMSTERDAM, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Amsterdam airport operator Schiphol Group said on Monday it would buy 60 body scanners and denied allegations of lax security after a Nigerian was charged with trying to blow up a plane that took off from Schiphol.

Schiphol's [SCHP.UL] reputation was dented after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, boarded a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day and was accused of trying to blow it up, and a reporter smuggled a syringe onto another aircraft last week. [ID:nN25136259]

The airport has begun using 15 body scanners, which use radio waves to see through a person's clothing and spot hidden weapons or packages, and will buy 60 more in the coming months, Schiphol's Chief Executive Jos Nijhuis said in a statement.

"The security scan, which we have tested extensively at Schiphol during the last three years, will now be deployed at all flights to the United States by order of the counter-terrorism agency (NCTb)," Nijhuis said.

The first 20 new scanners will be delivered at "short notice" and the total cost will be "several dozens of millions of euros", Nijhuis said at Schiphol's 2010 reception.

A reporter from Britain's Sunday Express last week smuggled a syringe like that used by Abdulmutallab onto a Schiphol-Heathrow flight and the paper dubbed Schiphol a 'terror airport'.

"That we are portrayed as a 'terror airport' in some British papers is completely out of place and does not testify to any knowledge," Nijhuis said in the statement.

Concern over cost and privacy have hindered the use of the scanners until now, critics saying they are too intrusive.

After Dutch authorities announced last week they would use the body scanners, Nigeria, Italy, and British airport operator BAA also announced plans to use them. [ID:nLDE60208K] (Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger, editing by Tim Pearce)

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