Border force airport ready
AUSTRALIAN Border Force officers will be sworn in at an official ceremony today ahead of the start of direct flights to Bali from Townsville’s new international airport terminal.
It comes as the Australian Federal Police confirm they will not deploy more officers to the city to respond to any security breaches at the airport.
About 15 officers will be sworn in at Customs House by acting Queensland Regional Commander Rachel Houghton today, the first ceremony of its kind in Townsville.
Officers have been performing customs and immigration functions in Townsville’s maritime and aviation domains for decades but a new ceremony is required after the merger of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Department of Immigration.
Ms Houghton said there were about 1000 ABF officers on duty at eight international airports. But she said that number would increase as some of the Townsville- based officers were tasked to meet incoming and outgoing flights when the city’s international terminal became operational.
“There will be a mixture of permanently stationed officers and casual flexible employee status officers and … these will be supplemented on a needs basis by fly- in fly- out officers,” she said. “Exact numbers of officers is operationally sensitive information and therefore cannot be provided.”
An AFP spokesman said no additional Commonwealth officers would be deployed to Townsville to cope with the looming influx of international passengers.
“The AFP’s ( only) officer in Townsville will work with the Queensland Police Service and Australian Border Force to provide a response capacity to Townsville Airport,” the spokesman said. “Additional support may be deployed from the AFP Cairns office to supplement and support any response to a major security or criminal incident occurring at Townsville Airport.”
Meanwhile, Jetstar Australia and New Zealand CEO David Hall confirmed tickets for the first flight from Townsville to Bali have almost sold out and the airline expected demand to ramp up closer to the September school holidays.
“We know Bali holds strong appeal for families and groups of friends,” Mr Hall said.
Jetstar’s international flights from Townsville to Bali will start on September 2.
The three- times weekly service will deliver more than 50,000 seats between Townsville and Bali each year.