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Airport ID cards only for the newbies

All in the fine print, apparently

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The trial of ID cards for airside workers at City of London and Manchester airports will be a slightly slower process than we imagined.

The cards will only be mandatory for new staff, not for all pilots and staff working at the airports.

The Home Office reckon this was always the case and we remembered wrongly - we bow to their semantics and long memories.

The answer was prised out of immigration minister Phil Woolas in a Written Answer.

We asked Balpa, the pilots' union, which also believed the trial involved all staff. But a spokesman for Balpa said: "While it is true that in the initial pilot scheme, at Manchester airport, the ruling will only apply to new staff, after that the scheme will be rolled out to all pilots and other airside staff in Manchester and then to all airside workers countrywide.

"We have quizzed the Government on this and they are adamant: all airside workers countrywide will eventually have to have an ID card or they will lose their job."

The 18-month trial at the two airports will therefore presumably start with no cards in use at all - waiting for new staff members to start so the technology can be tested. Well, there's nothing like a soft launch, we suppose.

And the idea of one new boy approaching the barriers watched by security guards muttering "Here comes that bloke with the ID card" is faintly amusing.

Some have suggested that the departure of Home Secretary Wacky Jacqui Smith will finally kill the project off, but we're not so sure.

The trial starts in autumn 2009, which suddenly seems an awfully long time in politics... ®

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