Increasing airport security is ‘giving in to hysteria’

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

Regional Express says the reintroduction of increased security measures at Albany Airport is not financially viable and would be giving in to national security “hysteria”.

Since REX took over the Perth to Albany route last year, passengers have not been security screened because of the size of the aircraft.

As first reported by the Albany Advertiser last month, the Office of Transport Security stipulates that an aircraft weighing less than 20 tonnes does not warrant security screening. REX’s Saab 340 aircraft sits below this threshold.

A REX spokeswoman said despite the recent terror threat in Sydney, where police raids resulted in two men being charged for an attempted terror plot at Sydney International Airport, increasing security at regional airports was not the correct response.

“We are (also) of the view that Australia’s response to terrorist threats must be balanced and measured,” she said.

“For example, smaller regional aircraft carry fewer passengers than most buses and it would be senseless to enforce screening on the former while leaving ‘vulnerable’ the tens of thousands of buses plying the streets each day.

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

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

The spokeswoman highlighted the financial implications of increased security measures.

“The annual operating cost associated with the provision of screening is about $750,000 per annum at each location which means that regional air travellers will have to absorb an additional $34 million per annum in costs,” she said.

“The Rex Group’s latest full-year results only showed a $4 million operational profit, so it would be easy to see what would happen if screening were made mandatory — most regional centres would be left without an air service.”

Member for Albany Peter Watson recently backed increasing security at Albany Airport.

“When travelling from Perth you have to go through security, yet you don’t from Albany to Perth just because of the size of the plane,” he said. “I think it would be good for passenger safety if security screening was reintroduced at Albany Airport.”

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