Screening ‘not viable’

Monday, 7th August, 2017

Regional Express says introducing screening to smaller airport terminals would result in most regional cities and towns not having air travel. PICTURE: Darrin Manuel Regional Express says introducing screening to smaller airport terminals would result in most regional cities and towns not having air travel. PICTURE: Darrin Manuel

By Andrew Robertson

Regional Express says most regional cities and towns would not have an airport if small airlines were forced to introduce costly screening measures.

As the federal government is set to consider tougher checks at larger domestic airport terminals, Rex is urging it not to give in to the “hysteria” caused by the recent alleged terror plot.

The airline said Australia’s response to terrorist threats “must be balanced and measured” against the impost and inconvenience any additional security measures would have on travel.

Small operators were particularly vulnerable because of their limited ability to absorb costs associated with any upgrades, according to Rex.

The airline, which flies to 45 regional centres where screening is not required, said if screening was introduced at these airports it would add about $34 million a year to its annual operating costs.

It said the result would be most regional centres would be left without an air service.

“The socio-economic impact of the loss of air services would be devastating to regional communities,” the airline said in a media release.

“Those needing to travel for essential medical, education and business reasons would be forced to drive and when they do, they would need to stop at cafes along the way for a break where they would presumably be screened too.

“Additionally, the millions of extra road users would undoubtedly add to the 1,200 road fatalities recorded each year in Australia.”

It would also be senseless, Rex said, to enforce screening at small regional airports but not the “tens of thousands of buses plying the streets each day”, or other potential targets such as trains, cinemas and shopping malls.

It said it complies with all security instructions of the Office of Transport Security and would continue to do so if and when regulations change.

“We must never ever give in to hysteria.

“Screening of all such potential targets would be so prohibitively expensive and onerous that normal life would be shut down.

“The safety and security of our customers is paramount to our airline and Rex abides by all regulations as prescribed by the relevant governing authorities.

“Giving in to hysteria is precisely the outcome that the terrorists seek and this would allow them to succeed in their objective of severely disrupting daily life without needing to carry out a single attack. 

“Australia and Australians know better than to fall for their trap.”

The Weekend Australian newspaper reported on Saturday the federal government cabinet was poised to consider applying the same security measures in place for international travel to domestic travel.

The measures could include restrictions on liquids, identity checks and the introduction of full-body scanners, as well as a crackdown on people being allowed to pass through domestic security barriers without a boarding pass.

The new measures are in direct response to the alleged terror plot to blow up an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi last month.