Australia tightens security checks for travellers flying from 3 Middle Eastern countries

Nandini Krishnamoorthy

People travelling from three Middle Eastern airports to Australia will soon have to undergo stricter security checks. Canberra's new move, taken on Friday (31 March), is apparently to prevent terror threats to the nation.

Starting 6 April, passengers flying directly to Australia from Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi will have to undergo random explosive detection tests, local media reports said. The checks may also include targeted screening of electronic devices.

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"In response to national security advice the Federal Government has made precautionary changes and instructed airlines to implement new protocols from next week," Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said on Friday (31 March).

Chester, however, added that the precautionary measures adopted are not a result of any specific threats to Australia.

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Qantas and Gulf carriers Etihad, Qatar and Emirates Airways will be affected because of the increased security measures.

"The Government is continuing to ensure Australians and visitors who travel by air can do so in the knowledge that every precaution is being taken to ensure they arrive at their destinations safely," Chester said. "The Federal Government has regular contact with international partners and will continue to monitor security developments and adjust security settings if needed."

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He advised passengers to check with their airlines before traveling to Australia. Such security measures are not new to Australian travellers as similar rules had been implemented by the country since 2007, Chester added.

"Australia has a comprehensive and strong transport security system in place to prevent acts of terrorism," he said.

Australia becomes the latest country to follow suit of the UK and the US, but the new rules for the Oceanic country do not include the same bans on electronic devices in the cabin baggage.

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The British government followed the example of President Donald Trump's administration and introduced a controversial ban on consumer electronics, including laptops and iPads, on UK-bound flights from several Muslim-majority nations.

Britain's electronics ban is not the same as the US, and the move impacts those travelling to the UK from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

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