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Airport bolsters security over fears of aircraft theft

written by Hannah Dowling | November 4, 2021
Airside view of East Kimberly Regional Airport after its renovations. (Wikimedia/Livewireshock)

East Kimberley Regional Airport has been forced to dramatically increase its security measures, following increasing threats that local teenagers could break in and attempt to steal an aircraft.

The regional airport, located in Kununurra in the far north of Western Australia, has introduced additional staff and protocols, in order to avoid any potential attempt by local youths to access the airport and commandeer a light plane.

Wyndham East Kimberley Shire Council, which operates the regional airport, has also warned other airports in the regions to be particularly vigilant.

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It comes as local authorities report an increase in car thefts and ram raids throughout the area.

Wyndham East Kimberley Shire president David Menzel stated that in light of these crimes in the area, there has been increasing “belief that there may be an attempt to take an aircraft, as [an escalation] of the activities going on” throughout the town.

“I’m not willing to give all the information away on the security but we’ve certainly stepped it up,” Councillor Menzel added.

“It will make it very difficult for people to breach the security zone and do anything silly.”

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The airport and local authorities say that it is highly unlikely that the young locals in question will be able to start an aircraft, and therefore successfully steal one.

However, despite this, there are significant concerns that any attempt to do so could severely damage aircraft left on the tarmac, as well as airport equipment.

“The point is they’re going to be in a security-controlled area,” Cr Menzel said. “You just don’t want anyone without authority mucking around with aircraft.”

Speaking of the threats, deemed incredibly credible by locals and police, Cr Menzel said, “It certainly points to a failure of the system. This is not acceptable. It wouldn’t be acceptable in a metropolitan area.

“It’s significant that we have so many cars stolen in our town. I’m pretty sure it’s because we’re in a remote area that that’s allowed to continue.”

Cr Menzel believes that more could and should be done to target youth crime in Kununurra and other regional towns in WA.

“There’s obviously so much of this [crime] going on and continuing to go on and what we’re doing is not enough,” he said.

“It’s very easy to blame the state for all our social problems but at the end of the day they are the ones with the statutory obligations.”

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