Flights in Australia and on Australian airlines are among the safest in the world, a Government minister assured the public after disturbing news regarding an overseas plane crash emerged yesterday.
While the crash of the Russian Metrojet A321-200 on Saturday in Egypt is still unsolved, British and US intelligence reports are pointing increasingly to a bomb aboard bringing down the plane. The crash killed all 224 people aboard the flight from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula to St Petersburg.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued an advisory giving details of the development and once again advising Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Egypt.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said that Australia’s own airports were “very secure”.
“If you’re travelling in Australia you’re travelling in one of the most secure environments in the world,” he told ABC Radio.
“People should have every confidence travelling on Australian airliners that they are safe when they do so.”
DFAT said: “The UK Government has said that there is a ‘significant possibility’ that the crash of a flight between Sharm el Sheikh and St Petersburg on 31 October was caused by an explosive device.
“It has instructed UK carriers to delay flights leaving Sharm el Sheikh. Investigations are continuing and airlines are currently assessing the aviation security arrangements at Sharm el Sheikh airport.
“You should contact your airline or travel agent for latest information on disruptions or if you hold concerns about the safety of aircraft servicing Sharm el Sheikh and other airports in Egypt. We continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Egypt.”
If the deadly air crash on Egypt’s Sinai peninsula turns out to be due to a bomb, it will demonstrate the capacity of terrorists to defeat security measures at airports (or at Sharm el Sheikh airport, at least). That’s a daunting prospect for travel and tourism.
Aircraft mechanical failure of some sort is still a possible cause of the crash. The in-flight breakup of an aircraft, while extremely rare, need not necessarily involve a bomb attack, despite intelligence concerns. Likewise, a fire or explosion in flight is not necessarily a bomb either.
Terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the crash, without saying how they did it. Experts dismissed suggestion the group possessed missiles that could reach an airliner at 32,000 feet, but a bomb on board is another matter.
With a multi-national taskforce of experts working on the case, confirmation of the cause may not be far away.
Written by Peter Needham