Minister of International Transport, George Hutson, chats with some of the security offcers participating in G4S Security Services’ annual Aviation Ground Security Operative Training Course.

While Barbados has not had to deal with any terrorist threats at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), Government is fully cognisant "that the risk exists and is a very real one."

This observation has been made by Minister of International Transport, George Hutson, who said Government is working assiduously to ensure that this island’s air and sea ports remain on the cutting edge of technology.

Minister Hutson, who was addressing G4S Security Services’ annual Aviation Ground Security Operative Training Course, said Government had recently signed a consultancy arrangement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to review and upgrade technical training as well as security systems at the GAIA. The exercise is expected to be launched next month.

"The policy of this Government is to ensure that the GAIA remains on the [cutting] edge of technology in relation to all of its systems and operations. Mechanisms are in place for the continuous review and enhancement of these systems. …Strict attention will continue to be paid to the security of our borders, especially the airport as a port of entry," he stressed.

Deeming the pre-board screening process, as currently carried out by G4S, to be "an early and crucial stage in the defence of the airport facility, its users and aircraft from any threat," Minister Hutson maintained that once effectively exercised and demonstrated, this should reduce passenger anxiety.

He also highlighted the correlation between professional service at destinations’ ports of entry and repeat visitor arrival. He noted that professional treatment of passengers and a customer-oriented approach by G4S staff would enhance the experience of travellers and reflect positively on the company, the airport, and by extension Barbados.

"We must at all times remember that for the first-time visitor, the first experience you get of a country generally tends to be at either the airport or seaport. That first impression and experience will, in many cases, decide whether you will return to Barbados or not. Of course the same thing could be said about the last experience. Persons could have had an excellent holiday but if their experience on leaving the airport is not as it should be, then chances of getting that person back again would be difficult," the Minister warned.

In addressing the training, Chief Executive Officer of the GAIA, Joseph Johnson, commended G4S for their excellent service at the airport, and their compliance with international obligations which helped to ensure that Barbados remained one of the most secure airports worldwide.

A total of 92 security officers underwent training during the week. It was facilitated by Aviation Security Trainer with G4S United Kingdom, Angela Christie.

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