The Ministry for Primary Industries says the new machine has the potential to improve biosecurity and passenger flow at the airport.
The machine will target small bags, rather than suitcases, says MPI Detector Technology Manager Brett Hickman. "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."
MPI biosecurity staff have started directing selected passengers to the new unit during arrival peak times in the morning and evening.
"We have effectively added another lane to the biosecurity area, which speeds up waiting times for passengers."
Hickman says the machine is the most technically advanced X-ray unit operated by MPI, making it easier for operators to detect risk items. "It produces very high quality images. It also provides a side and a top view of baggage instead of just a single view.”
He says X-ray screening of baggage plays an important role in preventing unwanted pests and diseases from entering New Zealand. "It is part of a layered approach to managing risk that includes detector dogs and careful risk assessment based on intelligence and passenger profiling."
MPI currently owns and operates 28 fixed X-ray units for baggage scanning at international airports, military bases and the Auckland International Mail Centre.
It also operates three mobile machines used mainly to screen bags carried by cruise ship passengers.