Airline steps up Kai Tak security

PHILIPPINE Airlines improved its security at Kai Tak yesterday following a deadly mid-air explosion aboard a 747-200 on Sunday.

The airline's Hong Kong station manager, Adrian Ingles, said its security personnel, hired by Securair Limited, were told early yesterday morning to 'check more carefully' all baggage and passengers.

The measures were implemented after Muslim fundamentalist group Abu Sayyaf, which claimed it put the bomb on the plane, said it would target other Philippine Airlines flights.

One person was killed and 10 others injured in the blast aboard the Tokyo-bound flight from Manila via Cebu.

Mr Ingles said security on all five flights leaving Kai Tak yesterday - four to Manila and one to Cebu - was improved.

'We have told them [Securair staff] to make more stringent checks on all check-in baggage and carry-on baggage,' Mr Ingles said.

'They are also doing better body checks. If it's really true that we are being targeted, then of course we are concerned. When it comes to safety we have to be 100 per cent sure the proper checks are in place.' Mr Ingles said the improved checks followed a request by Civil Aviation Department officials.

But a department spokesman was not aware of the request and said it would have been only an informal one.

'We have not done anything special since this incident and everything seems to be as normal,' the spokesman said. 'The chance of a terrorist action of this type occurring here is very remote. We already have 100 per cent screening of hold-stored baggage, which is more than other international airports.' Mr Ingles said no cancellations were made by passengers. 'This is the big season,' he said. 'So we are having all full flights.'