A fake World War II hand grenade, bullets, guns, credit card knives and a small axe are some of the more than 2000 weapons security officers seize from passengers trying to board flights at Australian airports each year.
The Weekend West has obtained images of some of the weapons from the Australian Federal Police under Freedom of Information laws as the Federal Government considers tougher security at airports after a Senate inquiry into airport security and the attempt to bring down an Etihad A380 last year.
The inquiry into aviation and airport safety report last year dodged major security reforms, to the dismay of the former senator who triggered the inquiry. “These latest images show just how real the threat is,” Nick Xenophon said.
Giving evidence to the inquiry, airports and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, (which oversees airports), dismissed concerns about the hundreds of security breaches and thousands of weapons seized each year.
That all changed with the arrests last July of four men, two of whom were charged with planning to use a chemical bomb to destroy an Etihad jet leaving Sydney. Brothers Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat face life in jail if convicted.
Security was bolstered immediately but Mr Xenophon says it is not enough.
“Australians expect that passenger and aircraft safety is the result of good design rather than sheer luck,” he said.
“In the US, anyone who has access to an aircraft has to be screened to make sure they’re not carrying anything dangerous that could be placed on a plane. That doesn’t happen here. It needs to.”
The Government is due to release new counterterrorism measures for Australian airports this month. It is part of the brief taken up by the new Home Affairs Department and recently appointed minister Peter Dutton.
The AFP and security experts have been calling for improved identity checks at points of entry to domestic terminals to prevent criminals from boarding planes.
In 2016, 60 people were charged with using false names to board flights. In December 2016, the AFP released details of 2355 weapons seized that year from people across Australia’s nine major airports, up from 2260 weapons in 2015.
Last year’s Airport and Aviation Security report revealed 20 per cent of airport staff with access to planes have criminal convictions.