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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Travelers to face new security checks from Doha to Australia

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Hamad International Airport. Credit: Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Starting next week, passengers flying out of Hamad International Airport and heading to Australia will face “enhanced security measures” before traveling.

The Australian government announced the move yesterday, but clarified that there is “no specific threat” facing the country.

Instead, the checks are a safety precaution following the recent rollout of new electronics bans onboard flights from the Middle East to the US and UK.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: TSA

However, Australia is not implementing an electronics ban onboard flights “at this stage,” officials said.

Qatar Airways currently flies non-stop from Doha to four Australian cities: Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. It plans to add a fifth route, to Canberra, soon.

Explosive detection

The enhanced screening will take effect on April 6. They are in addition to secondary checks already conducted on passengers flying to Australia.

In a statement, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the new security measures will apply to people traveling from Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

“Explosive detection screening will be conducted for randomly selected passengers and their baggage. Checks may also include targeted screening of electronic devices,” he said.

Chester added that the changes are in line with the UK’s recent decision to subject travelers from the three Gulf hubs to random explosive trace detection (ETD) screening.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Chapendra/Flickr

The UK’s ban is similar to the US, in that passengers must check any electronic device larger than a cellphone when flying directly from the Middle East.

However, unlike the US, the UK ban does not include Doha and the UAE.

For the Australia flights, the affected airlines include Qatar Airways, Etihad (including Virgin Australia codeshare passengers), Emirates and Qantas.

Passengers are being advised to “allot extra time” for the screenings when traveling.

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