Flight delays are expected to affect the nation throughout Tuesday after Melbourne Airport was forced to go into a partial lockdown this morning following a security breach.
Passengers boarding planes at the Victorian airport were forced to disembark just before their flights were due to take off and return to security. The security breach forced the airport to shut down partially while passengers from terminal 1 are being rescreened.
During what is usually the busiest period of the day at Melbourne Airport, thousands of passengers had to line up for a second time to go through security screening after a passenger ‘inadvertently’ slipped through to a ‘checked’ zone. The airport said there was an issue with screening passengers and that everyone would need to go through screening again.
Qantas handle security screening in Terminal 1 and released a statement shortly after the security mishap. “As a precaution, all Qantas operations have been put on hold and passengers in the terminal are being rescreened, which is causing delays to some services this morning,” the national airline said.
“Safety is our number one priority, but we know this disruption is causing some inconvenience for our passengers, and we apologise for that. We are investigating how this incident occurred,” said Qantas.
Melbourne Airport is the latest Australian airport involved in a major security breach
Melbourne Airport becomes the second Australian airport in the space of a month that suffered a major security breach. On September 7th, Sydney Airport saw a number of passengers slip through security screening before boarding a flight to Melbourne. Qantas flight QF487 was intercepted on the tarmac at Melbourne while passengers onboard were escorted back to the terminal by armed federal police.
The Sydney Airport incident raised red flags after a group of passengers were able to move freely from a regional flight and enter the ‘screened’ area. One of the passengers involved became concerned over the lack of diligence shown by security staff that he notified nearby ground staff that he had not been screened. At the time, Qantas pledged to investigate the incident to understand what happened to avoid a reoccurrence of the breach.
United Workers Union property services coordinator Damien Davie said that he believed the incident occurred due to severe understaffing at the airport. Qantas has come under fire in recent months for being stretched thin on the ground. A four corners report found that the airline was cutting corners and hiring staff undertrained and too inexperienced to carry out important airside duties.
Melbourne Airport released a message on Twitter shortly after the incident was contained this morning, stating that Qantas staff would work hard to get flights away.
“Screening of passengers in T1 has resumed. Delays are expected this morning, but Qantas staff are working hard to get everyone to their destinations,” the tweet read.
Multiple passengers took to Twitter to share their experiences this morning. Sue Duke, a passenger onboard a flight due to depart for Brisbane, said, “everyone had to de-plane and are waiting to be called through security again”.
Delays are expected to continue throughout the day. The incident will likely have further ramifications on airports around the country as delayed flights arrive late to their destination.
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