A cabin decompression on Qantas flight QF670 between Adelaide and Melbourne this morning pushed the terrorist attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport off the top of this morning’s radio bulletins.
This is not a great reflection on news values in the Australian media.
In Moscow in an insecure part of an airport, the arrivals hall, a suicide bomber has killed at least 35 people and injured more than 150.
But the news priority locally is a 737 with 99 passengers on board that lost cabin pressure. The Qantas jet did descend steeply, as per the standard operating procedures for such an event, to 10,000 feet (just over 3000 metres) while oxygen masks dropped, and the jet landed at Tullamarine Airport 30 minutes later.
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No emergency services were required. QF67 was met by reporters, not ambulances.
The real story is that at Tullamarine, and almost every other major airport in the world, the arrivals areas are unsecured, as are most places in life worldwide where people gather.
That is the overarching evil of the Domodedovo attack. It highlights the impossibility of securing places where the public freely gathers.
If airports such as those in Australia tried to seal off the arrivals halls, the target simply moves 100 metres, maybe 200, to an underground train platform or bus station, or to a car park.
The emphasis behind the scenes in this country, and most others apart from the hysterics we see in America, is on running the intelligence gathering necessary to get to terrorists before they get to an airport security screening line, or to an arrivals hall.
If previous incidents are any guide, the Moscow coverage will swing back to cheap headline grabs by politicians trying to push the nasty little hot buttons about border security, stranger danger, and the need to enforce strict ID tests on everyone to, somehow, control access to public areas.
ID paranoia is a commonplace stupidity in media coverage of terrorism in this country. Imagine, a terrorist not heading off to Flinders Street Station packed with explosives because they didn’t have the right ID!
The realities of airport terrorism, and some very sane advice from America’s Stratfor group on personal security awareness, are discussed in more depth on Crikey blog Plane Talking.