Egypt Boosts Airport Security After Russia Plane Disaster

Egypt Boosts Airport Security After Russia Plane Disaster

The remains of a Russian airliner are inspected by military investigators at the crash site at the al-Hasanah area in El Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. (Reuters)

Cairo: Egypt's government said Tuesday it is bolstering security at airports over the possibility that a Russian plane departing a Sinai resort was brought down by a bomb late last month.

"Taking into consideration all possible causes behind the plane crash, including the possibility that it was targeted by a terrorist attack, the Egyptian authorities have enhanced security measures in all airports," said the interior ministry.

The statement came as an Egyptian minister said a probe had yet to reach any final conclusions about the disaster, in remarks shortly after Russia announced a bomb had brought down the aircraft.

"Until now the (investigation) committee has not yet arrived to any results indicating the cause of the crash," Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal told a news conference.

The plane, flown by Russian firm Kogalymavia, came down shortly after take off from resort Sharm el-Sheikh on October 31, killing all 224 people on board in Russia's worst air disaster.

The disaster prompted Britain to restrict flights to the resort, and Moscow to all Egyptian airports while barring the country's national carrier EgyptAir from Russia.

Egypt's interior ministry said on Tuesday that there was a review of screening measures for passengers and luggage, "and enhancement of search procedures for passengers and workers upon entry into the airport".

The ministry added "security sweeps" of airplanes would be conducted as well as "reviews of flight crews' security permits".

It is not known how a bomb would have been smuggled on the doomed plane before it set off from the popular Red Sea resort, but there have been suspicions of an inside job.

The interior ministry said in a separate statement on Tuesday that there have been no arrests at the airport over the incident.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond had said failures in security at Sharm el-Sheikh airport may have enabled the attack.

"You don't need a sophisticated capability to get a small bomb, and that's all you need to bring down an aircraft, a small bomb with a straightforward timer.

"Sadly there are many, many people who can do that. The issue is about getting it air side in an airport that is supposed to be secure," said Hammond.

"Where this points the finger is at the capability of the security on the ground at Sharm el-Sheikh."

The UK-based PGI risk management group said in a report that the disaster had "cast a spotlight on the prospect of an insider threat at airports, which requires an alternative security response".

Security changes could cause airport delays and extra costs, the group said.

"There will likely be some resistance from the aviation industry to knee-jerk measures, for example proposals for passengers to identify their luggage before being loaded onto aircraft," the report said.

"Nonetheless, airports will inevitably feel pressure to adopt tighter security practices due to reputational and competitive disadvantages of perceived non-compliance with new security norms."