The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in New Zealand is set to trial a new biosecurity X-ray machine targeting hand baggage carried by international air passengers at Auckland Airport.

Operated by MPI, the X-ray unit has the potential to improve biosecurity and passenger flow at the airport.

MPI Detector Technology manager Brett Hickman said that the machine will target small bags, rather than suitcases.

Hickman added: “This is an area that has the highest risk of bringing fruit fly into the country.

“Our stats show nearly 90% of seizures of fruit fly host materials are from hand baggage.”

The biosecurity staff of MPI started directing selected passengers to the new unit during peak time arrivals in the morning and evening.

“Our stats show nearly 90% of seizures of fruit fly host materials are from hand baggage.”

Another lane has been added to the biosecurity area, which speeds up waiting times for passengers.

Operators can easily use the advanced X-ray unit to detect risk items. The unit is said to produce quality images while providing a side and top view of baggage, instead of just a single view.

Hickman said that with X-ray screening of baggage, unwanted pests and diseases can be prevented from entering New Zealand.

Hickman further added: “It is part of a layered approach to managing risk that includes detector dogs and careful risk assessment based on intelligence and passenger profiling.”

At present, MPI owns and operates 28 fixed X-ray units for baggage scanning at international airports and also operates three mobile machines that are primarily used to screen bags carried by cruise ship passengers.