Airport security: Ground staff should have same screening process as air crew, pilots say

Following increased screening measures after the weekend’s bomb plot arrests, the AFAP has warned of an inconsistency in the security screening of aircrew and ground crew at most major airports in Australia.

The following article was originally published by Jennifer Huxley for ABC News and can be found here 

The peak association representing air pilots has warned that some airport staff are gaining access to planes and equipment with minimal security screening.

Key points:

  • Treatment of ground staff like baggage handlers, caterers, contractors and engineers is too relaxed at some airports
  • There is widespread inconsistency in security measures across airports and terminals
  • There are calls for ground staff to undergo the same screening processes as passengers and flight crew

While passengers are being subjected to increased screening measures in the wake of the weekend's alleged bomb plot arrests, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) said treatment of ground staff like baggage handlers, caterers, contractors and engineers was too relaxed at some capital city airports.

This is unlike flight crew, who undergo the same screening processes as passengers.

AFAP safety and technical officer Marcus Diamond said air crew and ground crew should be treated in the same manner.

"We are calling for consistency in screening practices at main capital city airports around Australia for different types of staff," he said.

"At one airport you will have ground staff requiring a personal check of their aviation security card [ASIC card] and any bags they are taking airside, whereas at another one they only swipe two doors and they are in.

"Air crew are generally very well-known people, they have been in the system a long time, they have had multiple checks and security access and yet they often have less access to airside, to their own aircraft than the people who are putting the luggage on board."

Discrepancies across terminals

Mr Diamond said the discrepancies were not limited to occupations or cities, with some terminals at the same airport exercising less onerous security measures.

"Sydney probably sits in the middle but there will be specific areas like perhaps the cargo area will be more lax than say the international terminal but it is in the vicinity of the same terminal space," he said.

"Brisbane has much tighter security at the international airport than at the domestic airport.

"Consistency in access to airside definitely [is needed], if you think about it once you are airside and you are in a car you can drive around the perimeters of an airport and access all areas."

The Office of Transport Security has been contacted for comment.


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