The Paris airports authority said yesterday that it had no plans to tighten security further after the EgyptAir crash despite its own employees expressing concern about weak points in the system.

Speculation is mounting that the disaster was caused by a terrorist attack after it emerged that smoke filled the plane cabin shortly before it crashed, suggesting an explosion took place.

Pauline Godebout, an airline desk officer, said there were "sometimes" identity checks at entrances to terminals at Charles de Gaulle airport.

"But they don't do it all the time. I think it's a budget issue. There are so many doors to the airport that it's very difficult to secure them all."


An airports authority spokesman said security had already been stepped up after recent terrorist attacks. He said people entering the airport were sometimes required to produce identity documents before being allowed in, but this was not done systematically to avoid creating long queues outside.

"Spot-checks of people's identities are carried out on a random basis," he said.

"We have to strike a balance between security and inconveniencing travellers. The question is, do you really increase security or are you just moving the risk to another area?"

Identity checks were introduced outside Brussels terminal entrances after two suicide bombers blew themselves up in March in the check-in area, before passengers are routinely screened. However, the Paris spokesman pointed out that they "created queues of hundreds of people" that could also be a target.

The first images have emerged of debris of EgyptAir flight 804, which crashed into the Mediterranean on its way to Cairo from Paris, killing all 66 people on board. The Egyptian military released pictures Saturday.

"There is nothing to indicate a security flaw at Charles de Gaulle," he said.

Armed police and soldiers patrolled the terminals yesterday, but Celine, a parking attendant, expressed concern that a lack of manpower and funding left the airport vulnerable to an attack.

"For an airport, I think the level of security here is really not enough.

"We are responsible for identifying abandoned bags. We deal with about five alerts a week. And the police response is too slow. Even when they seal off the area, it's still not enough to protect us. It takes the bomb disposal squad up to an hour to arrive. That's easily enough time for a bomb to go off."

Asked if she thought a bomb could be planted on a plane on the ground at the airport, she said: "It could happen. There are checks but they're not systematic enough."

She said she had been "really scared" since the Brussels bombings and was relieved she was quitting her job in a week after a six-month contract.

As an international search continued for the wreckage, Egypt deployed a remote-controlled submarine to find the airliner's black boxes to determine whether it was technical failure or terrorism that caused the A320 to plunge into the sea last Thursday.

For an airport, I think the level of security here is really not enough


Families of the 66 victims were warned it might be weeks before bodies are recovered as the Egyptian Government admitted that the submarine might be unable to operate at extreme depths. It can reach depths of 2990m but parts of the Mediterranean are even deeper. It is not clear that the submarine could recover the black box recorders even if it locates them.

"We do not, I think, have the technical abilities to operate in such deep waters whereas many of our partners might have this facility," said Sameh Shoukry, the Foreign Minister.

The batteries of the black boxes' sonar transmitters are likely to die after a month. US navy aircraft have spotted more than 100 pieces of debris.

With no bodies to bury, an absentee funeral mass was held at Cairo's main cathedral for nine Coptic Christians who were on the plane.

Photographs of two of the dead - Medhat Michel and Waguih Mourise - were placed on the altar as the bishop read out the victims' names. Also among the dead is Islam Usama, a 22-year-old law student who had been on holiday in Paris with his older brother but was returning early to Cairo to take exams. His brother, Mohammed, dropped him at the airport expecting to see him a few days later.

When he heard of the crash, he rushed back to Egypt. "Since I came back haven't been able to think about anything. I'm not aware of anything happening around me," he said.