Passengers are being urged to behave responsibly as Australian airports are expecting high volumes of travellers over the Easter and school holiday break.
The AFP will boost patrols across nine designated airports – the Gold Coast, Cairns, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, and Adelaide – as passenger numbers increase.
During the 2022/2023 Christmas and school holiday travel period, AFP officers stationed at the nine major airports across the country, charged 49 people with 69 offences including alleged assault, drug possession and weapon offences.
Another 24 people were handed infringement notices for intoxication, offensive and disorderly behaviour, creating a disturbance and failing to comply with directions from airline staff over the same period (20 December, 2022 to 29 January, 2023).
AFP responded to about 20,000 incidents at AFP-protected airports across Australia during 2022.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Specialist Protective Command Alison Wegg said the holiday period is inevitability a busy time for airports and the AFP takes a zero tolerance approach on anti-social or criminal behaviour.
“The AFP is working with airlines, airports and regulatory authorities to help ensure a safe environment for passengers,” she said.
“We are conscious that times of high passenger volume, combined with higher waiting periods, can lead to an increase in disruptive or anti-social behaviour.
“The AFP is encouraging the public to be patient with unexpected delays and follow airline advice.”
Assistant Commissioner Wegg said the AFP is also encouraging passengers to refrain from indulging in excessive alcohol consumption to ensure safety of all travellers and airline staff.
“We have recently seen some disturbing and unacceptable behaviour where travellers have shown complete disregard for fellow passengers and airline staff.
“Although consumption of alcohol itself on our planes and at airports is not illegal, we are asking the public to be mindful of how much alcohol they consume.
“People who are unruly on aircraft should understand that this may mean they will not be allowed to travel and will impact their family holiday plans and also impact fellow passengers.”
The AFP will continue to be vigilant to ensure measures are in place to protect the community from criminal exploitation.
“The AFP canine units will be deployed across a number of the airports and are trained to detect cash, drugs, firearms and relevant technology devices.
“Passengers who break the law will be dealt with swiftly and will be brought before the courts,” Assistant Commissioner Wegg said.
The AFP also encourages the public to call Airport Watch on 131 237 if they see or hear something unusual while working or travelling through one of Australia’s major airports.
Airport Watch plays an important role within aviation security. It delivers critical information to the AFP to enhance the detection and resolution of suspicious or criminal activity at airports.
Suspicious activity or unusual behaviour includes:
- A person observed displaying an unusually keen interest in security procedures;
- A person observed recording or taking photos in or around sensitive areas of the airport;
- Anyone acting strangely or in an unusual manner;
- Anyone heard asking questions to gain information about the airport; and
- Anyone trying to gain unauthorised access to secure areas.