Why are false security alerts unwanted?

Security alerts at the airport are unwanted, but not always for the obvious reasons: one reason is a little curious.

Every so often an activity of the airport is referenced in a newspaper. These references seem to be put out in order to reassure us that the airport staff are working for our benefit: surely true for those of us that use the airport. However, sometimes the indefatigable airport spokesman, Bernard Stämpfli, lets out an unexpected gem of information which we had probably not imagined.

Last week was one such occasion, with an article last Monday, 25 March, in the freebie 20Minutes and entitled

Ces fausses alertes qui empoisonnent l'aéroport

This article talked about security alerts resulting from an unattended package, stating thet last year there were 79 such alerts in the airport proper or in the freight zone: more than the 63 alerts elsewhere in the Geneva canton. Each such alert is, quite properly, treated seriously, with up to 8 persons involved in the treatment.

Mr Stämpfli then told us that the financial repercussions for the airport itself are important. If a suspicious object is discovered near the security controls then the passengers outside the security zone cannot enter into it, so their flight may have to be delayed. Then, of course, when the security is reopened, the passengers have to rush to the boarding gates ...

... so they will not have time to stop in the airport shops to buy anything (such as the bottles of water at an inflated price which Mr Stämpfli previously declared to be a traditional money-making item for these shops).

So there you have it: we should go early through the security check in order to be certain to be able to buy things at the airport shops, thus allowing these shops to make more profits, part of which are passed to the airport and help to keep the passenger duty low.

I wonder how many of the 79 alerts of last year actually did stop the security controls, and how much money the shops would have estimated as their loss!

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