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Create ‘watchlist’ to track unruly passengers, says Virgin

written by Adam Thorn | December 20, 2023

A Virgin Australia 737-800 taxis past Melbourne’s international terminal. (Image: Jake Nelson)

Virgin Australia has advocated for the creation of a “watchlist” to keep track of unruly passengers.

In its submission to the Aviation Green Paper, the airline said a national strategy should be established to counter offensive and disorderly behaviour.

“Like in all industries, workplace violence in the aviation industry can have significant economic and social costs for workers, their families, organisations and the wider community,” Virgin said.

The Aviation Green Paper, released in September, attempts to create a strategy for the industry until 2050.

Covering topics such as net zero, consumer protections and affordability, it will lead to a final White Paper published next year based on submissions from the sector.


Virgin used its entry to argue the industry is not doing enough to deal with both bad behaviour and more serious security concerns.

“Six years have passed since Operation Silves [the foiled plot to bomb an international flight by Islamic State], and the continued delay by a number of security-controlled airports has failed to adequately mitigate some vulnerabilities,” it said.

“Balancing support for a potential extension to develop cost-efficient airport designs, it must be recognised that the persistence of outdated technology in airports is less than ideal.”

Virgin argued that while “significant progress” has been made in recent years to stop passengers behaving badly, airline staff continue to be exposed to passengers who “threaten their safety”.

“This issue and the safety of staff is exacerbated in regional and remote locations where there is no on-airport or nearby police response,” it said.

“In October 2022, the Australian Federal Police reported it had charged more than 330 alleged offenders with some 420 charges at airports in the previous six months.

“The majority of these charges related to intoxication or offensive behaviour, possessing a prohibited weapon, carrying prohibited items, public disturbance and incidents relating to assault.”

Australian Aviation reported earlier this week how both Qantas and Virgin have criticised “monopoly airports” in their respective responses to the government’s Aviation Green Paper.

The two major airlines are calling for “more effective” regulation of Australia’s airports, with Qantas, in particular, branding them “effectively unregulated monopoly infrastructure” and Virgin saying they impose “inefficient costs on the travelling public”.

“While their owners deserve to make a reasonable financial return, the Group’s submission highlights examples of ‘Airports Behaving Badly’ due to the lack of checks and balances on their conduct around contract negotiation,” the Flying Kangaroo said in a statement.

“Modest reform within the existing light-handed regulatory framework will unlock immediate benefits and place downward pressure on fares.

“After airports rejected a mutual code of conduct with airlines in 2022, the Qantas Group calls for access to an independent and binding dispute resolution to deliver meaningful reform and mandating the Aeronautical Pricing Principles (which are non-binding and routinely ignored) across all airports.”

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