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Some Olympics-bound planes will stop in Spokane first

Private airplanes headed for Vancouver, B.C., during the Winter Olympics next February will have to land in Spokane, Boise or Reno for a security check, a spokesman for the Transportation Safety Administration said Friday.

Dwayne Baird said airspace around Vancouver will be open only to those aircraft that have been screened at the three U.S. airports. The planes will be inspected and the passengers screened, a process that will take about 20 minutes, he said. Baird said TSA workers at Spokane International Airport should be adequate to handle the extra duties.

The 2010 Winter Olympics open Feb. 12 and close Feb. 28.

Airport spokesman Todd Woodard said the three gateway airports together may screen as many as 600 planes during that period. The additional traffic should not disrupt operations, he said.

Even if the time on the ground is brief, Woodard said, the airport wants to make the best possible impression during the stopover. Some of the planes will be corporate jets ferrying executives who will remember their experience in Spokane.

Staff Sgt. Mike Cote with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said U.S. and Canadian authorities will respond quickly if planes enter Vancouver airspace that have not stopped at the gateway airports, or have not filed flight plans. Efforts will be made to contact or divert the planes, he said. What procedures might be followed if those attempts fail, Cote declined to say.

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