Even in-country tourists will get once-over at airports

Tourists who fly from a regional airport like Tobias Bolaños in Pavas will have to undergo a baggage check and inspection by anti-drug dogs.

That is one of the measures being put into force because a drug-laden small plane crashed Oct. 10 after taking off from Pavas.

A committee of officials set up the rule, and they also cover flights from Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia, the Limón airport and Juan Santamaría in Alajuela. This is the first time that passengers on in-country flights have been checked.

Officials also will prohibit delivery vehicles, messengers and bill collectors from restricted areas of the airport, which includes the hangars.

Security officials also will get names each month of flight and aviation mechanics students who are taking lessons at the airport. The students will have to go by foot from the public areas and carry special identification.

The Pavas airport always has had a system of identification for workers and visitors. The new rules emphasize this security system. Police officers on duty at the airport also will make random visits to hangars and make written reports. The distribution of gasoline also will be monitored.

The announcement of these rules did not include smaller airports, like the ones in Nosara, Tamarindo and elsewhere along the Pacific coast.

The security minister set up what is being called an interdisciplinary commission to handle security. Directing it is Walter Navarro, now a vice minister.

The commission has members from immigration, drug police, the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea and the Fuerza Pública, all agencies in the Minsterio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Publica, and representatives from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas Transportes.

The commission will meet next Nov. 1 when members will consider additional security measures, including electronic access and X-ray and metal detection machines, the security ministry said.

The civil aviation authorities also will beef up oversight of individuals and companies who hold hangar concessions at the airports, the officials said.

In the case of the drug flight, the company that owned the aircraft was purchased by individuals from México earlier in the year.

The aircraft was carrying about 200 kilos when it crashed. Police presume that there have been other earlier flights.

Police said that the anti-drug dogs will go over each aircraft before it departs. Several companies, including Nature Air, have the Pavas airport as a base.

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