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NZ mulls extra checks on Mideast flights

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/04/2017 Alexander Cornwell

New Zealand is considering additional security checks on flights from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East.

The new rules would follow similar measures introduced last month by the United States, Britain and Australia.

The Civil Aviation Authority "is assessing the evidence to determine what is appropriate," Transport Minister Simon Bridges told Reuters in an interview in Dubai.

Additional security measures would affect passengers flying from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Doha, Qatar, where carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways, respectively, fly direct to New Zealand.

Mr Bridges said a decision to add new checks would be made independent of the government by the aviation authority .

He declined to say when a decision could be made. He did not say what measures were being considered.

On March 25, the United States banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from passenger cabins of direct flights from eight countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, including Qatar and the UAE.

Britain followed the same day with similar measures, including banning larger electronics on flights from some Middle East countries but not Qatar and the UAE where it instead requested additional security checks.

Australia's additional checks on passengers and baggage apply to Qatar and the UAE as they are the only Middle East countries with which it has direct air links.

The additional security measures were made based on intelligence suggesting flights could be targeted for attack.

"What we have seen from them is a less than uniform way of doing things," Mr Bridges said of the different measures introduced by the United States, Britain and Australia, all close allies of New Zealand.

Prime Minister Bill English says there's a matter of balance to be considered between passenger inconvenience and flight safety.

Asked at his post-cabinet press why the measures were being considered, he said it was "mainly because some other countries have done it - these are countries we work pretty closely with on security issues".

Mr English thought any measures introduced by New Zealand wouldn't necessarily be the same as those imposed by other countries.

"We are a safer place than most countries, we would want to ensure measures we put in place are tailored for us."

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