Australian airport security is facing strong pressure to change from two different angles: the extensive terror plot this summer and the US’s tighter airport measures. The terror attempt in August, involving an elaborate explosives scheme, has stirred up debate over transportation security among Australian politicians and government officials. Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, issued a joint statement on the government’s plan to enhance Australian airport security.
The measures are focused on airport workers, such as luggage handlers, as the terror plot revolved around sneaking explosives into luggage. Currently, Australia’s airport workers and their belongings are not screened for explosives or dangerous items.
The new measures will take place at the airports of Australia’s major cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Cairns, the Gold Coast, and Hobart). All airport staff (Baggage handlers, caterers, engineers, and maintenance staff) will face random testing for explosives. The efficacy of such efforts is questionable. These screenings are not regular and there is a possibility that they can be dodged.
Passengers will be affected by other airport security measures in an effort to comply with tighter US security requirements. All US-bound flights will require passengers to undergo short security interviews. This ‘passenger vetting’ will help US-bound flights avoid an in-cabin ban on laptops.
Tighter Airport Security and Its Impact on Travellers and Workers
For airport workers, these new security measures are unlikely to significantly impact their daily lives, though this is subject to change as the security debate evolves. Airport security measures in Australia still fall far short of the rules and regulations US airport workers are required to undergo.
It is travellers that will be especially impacted. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has said that new security measures will cause delays for travellers.
US-bound travellers will face the greatest impact. To accommodate the short security interviews, airlines request passengers to arrive a full 3 hours before departure. Additionally, conveniences provided by some airlines for frequent flyers will be scaled back.
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