Lengthy delays at Australian airports after ‘Islamic-inspired terrorism’ plots

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A passenger plane flies over a barbed wire fence as it approaches Sydney airport February 23, 2010.
A passenger plane flies over a barbed wire fence as it approaches Sydney airport February 23, 2010. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

Lengthy delays at airports across Australia can be expected following a series of terror raids confirmed to be “Islamic-inspired terrorism” plots. Aussie Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said travellers must arrive at the airport at least two hours earlier.

Turnbull urged travellers to make room for additional security at screening points and said Australians must be aware of an increased threat. Passengers were also advised to limit the amount of checked baggage and carry-on to help ensure efficient security screening.

Added security measures were enacted in Sydney on Thursday when police obtained an indication of a potential threat. The measures include further screening and additional checks of cabin and checked baggage, which are expected to cause longer queues and check-in times across Australia’s airports.

In a statement, Virgin Australia warned travellers that due to the added precautionary measures, “it may take a little longer” to get through the processes of screening. For passengers taking a domestic flight, they were advised to arrive at least two hours before their trip, while those taking an international flight may arrive three hours earlier. A spokesperson for Qantas Group said it was working closely with the government and its airport partners.

Travellers have already experienced delays at airports due to the added security measures. Turnbull said some of these measures will be obvious to the public while others may not be. Despite the additional time that further security measures may take, the Australian leader said travellers should go about their business with confidence.

The state of the country’s airport security was thrown into question after the arrest of an Islamist-inspired terror cell in Sydney. They were allegedly plotting to blow up a plane.

Raids were carried out at five properties in the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills and the south-western suburbs of Punchbowl, Lakemba and Wiley Park. Four men, identified as Khaled Merhi, Abdul Merhi, Khaled Khayat and Mahmoud Khayat, were arrested. Police found items that could be used to make a homemade bomb, ABC reports.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said on Sunday they have taken the threat seriously. He said the public needed to go about their business and give themselves more time at the airport.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller pointed out that the reality with terrorism is that one could not wait. “In this case, we risk assess regularly, hourly sometimes, around the clock,” he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

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