Passengers travelling on direct flights from the UAE and Qatar to Australia will now face additional screening, especially of electronic devices.
The new rule come after the US and the UK announced a ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in the cabins of flights from certain countries.
“In response to national security advice the Federal Government has made precautionary changes and instructed airlines to implement new protocols from next week,” Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said in a statement on Friday.
“Explosive detection screening will be conducted for randomly selected passengers and their baggage. Checks may also include targeted screening of electronic devices.”
However, he stressed that there was “no specific threat to Australia”.
“Our changes are in line with the UK, which recently announced that people travelling from Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai will be subject to random explosive trace detection (ETD) screening,” he said.
The increased security measures will affect passengers flying on Qantas and Gulf carriers Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways.
In a statement, Australian carrier Qantas – a codeshare partner of Emirates – confirmed the new security measures.
“In line with updated Australian Government requirements, Qantas will implement additional screening of passengers flying from the UAE (Dubai) to Australia. This involves using a similar random explosive trace detection test already used at major Australian airports. This will apply to passengers travelling on QF2 (Dubai-Sydney) and QF10 (Dubai-Melbourne) only.”
Gulf airlines have already implemented new measures to counter the impact of the ban of laptops on US flights.
Qatar Airways and Etihad announced last week that complimentary laptops would be available to business and first class passengers while travelling to the US.
Etihad is also offering unlimited wifi to business and first-class passengers.
Meanwhile Emirates president Tim Clark told Bloomberg that the airline may seek out “creative” ways to work around the ban, including providing government-approved laptops that “can be used in-flight to help people do what they need to do in the absence of devices that are in the hold.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has criticised the new measures, saying they create “severe” commercial distortions.
IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said they were “not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they [governments] are trying to mitigate”.
“Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe. We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics,” he added.