HEIGHTENED security measures will be scaled back at major airports across Australia after an alleged terror plot to bring down a commercial airliner was “disrupted and contained”.
Security was stepped-up at all major airports last weekend after counter-terror police foiled an alleged plot by a suspected terror cell in Sydney to bring down an international passenger plane using an improvised device.
Four men were arrested in coordinated raids across four separate suburbs and held without charge. One man has since been released, while charges are expected to be laid against the remaining three.
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As a result of the operation, travellers were required to arrive at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight to allow additional time for more thorough bag checks.
Addressing the nation on Thursday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the threat to aviation has now been scaled back to ‘possible’, the level it was a week ago before the discovery of the alleged plot.
The aviation threat level was raised from ‘possible’ to ‘probable’ in the wake of the counter-terrorism operation. The overall terror threat level to Australia remains unchanged at ‘probable’.
“That is because the plot has been disrupted and has been contained,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull said the enhanced airport security measures will continue but will now be “modified” to ease delays.
“People should continue to arrive for their flights in accordance to the direction of their airlines,” he said.
“Travellers should expect to receive advice from their airlines that arrival times will be restored to those that previously applied – an hour for domestic, two hours for international, but some airlines differ.”
In a statement, the Gold Coast Airport confirmed the security measures for both its international and domestic terminals had been adjusted.
“This is in response to the changed threat level and the need to balance security with ensuring that the
aviation sector can continue to operate effectively,” the statement read.
“For the travelling public, this means they should still expect increased security measures, but a reduction
in delays is anticipated.
“These measures are precautionary and the public can be confident that Australia has a comprehensive and strong aviation security system.
“The Government is working closely with industry to respond to the constantly changing security environment.”
Travellers flying out of the Gold Coast Airport can, from tomorrow (Friday), return to their normal check-in times.
The Prime Minister said the evidence against the three men who remain in custody following the counter-terror operation in Sydney is “very strong” and expects charges to be laid against all three “in due course”.