Rota International Airport — Departure from the Rota International Airport will take longer than usual starting in May. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration said the new process will now include security screening of baggage and hand carried personal effects with a detection device.

Viola R. Sablan customer service and liaison manager for TSA told the Journal that Explosive Trace Detectors which she said cost close to $1 million each will be installed at the airport in the first week of the month.

She said “We are anticipating the rollout the opening to take place on May 15.” She said the screening process will cause a slowdown in passenger and baggage traffic but stressed that this is necessary to ensure security. She said the delay would be “minimal.”

According to Sablan “It’s going to cause some delay because of the security screen. But it will be the same as the amount of time that passengers would have to go through when undergoing screening in the Guam or Saipan airports.” She said “It depends on how much baggage a passenger has on what the individual carries and on what the screeners see. There are special screening procedures (that should be followed) based on TSA protocol.”

Sablan said “We will communicate through community outreach about the screening process at the Rota International Airport by educating the public about the screening requirement. It will ease the misunderstanding and misinformation of our purpose to screen departing passengers.” She said prohibited items such as lighters knives and scissors will be confiscated. Sablan said screening can be made faster if these items are left at home. Laptops and cameras will also be inspected she said.

For security reasons Sablan declined to divulge how many ETDs will be installed and where. She said screening would be done at the passenger and baggage checkpoint sections of the airport to be manned by at least 12 local staff hired by TSA. She said planning for the installation of the equipment started in 2005. Sablan said ETDs have been in place at Saipan’s Francisco C. Ada International Airport since 2002.

She also did not disclose how many were installed there. Over time she said TSA has confiscated bulk prohibited items at the Saipan airport. She said TSA hired a company tasked to haul them away and destroy them.

Sablan said TSA is waiting for the completion of the ongoing new departure terminal project at the Tinian International Airport and will likewise install ETDs there.

Some Saipan flights from Guam stop over at Rota’s airport to drop off and pick up passengers. MBJ