A group of passengers sparked a major security breach at Brisbane Airport on Sunday night, causing chaos in the southern domestic terminal.
The entire Virgin Australia terminal was evacuated with thousands of passengers and airport workers having to be rescreened before being allowed back in – resulting in long lines and 33 flight delays averaging 30 minutes.
A Brisbane Airport spokesperson told news.com.au five passengers went through security screening, but required “some form of supplementary screening” or to get the OK to proceed, however “that did not occur” and as a result they went into the terminal.
“We had visibility of them the entire time in the terminal and as a result of swift action of airport security, we were able to contain this to the southern part of the terminal, only impacting those people on airlines operating out of the southern end which is largely Virgin Australia,” the spokesperson said.
“There was no risk to passengers and staff. Our next priority was getting people back on their flights and on their way.
“We sincerely apologise to anyone who had their planes disrupted.”
The spokesperson said the longest flight delay was an hour and 10 minutes, but no flights were cancelled.
It has not been confirmed whether the group refused the subsequent screening.
“They went through the scanning machines and you either have to have a security officer tell you it’s fine to go or may have to have supplement screening,” the spokesperson said.
“We are just reviewing the circumstances that led to that.
“Two thousand people need[ed] to be rescreened – our focus was their safety and then making sure people got back on track for holidays and work.”
One woman took to Twitter explaining her entire plane had to disembark.
“Just boarded a plane at @BrisbaneAirport to now be told everyone in the terminal and every plane will now be disembarking to go through security again … pretty sure if someone had something dangerous it would be safer to have them on a plane than a rammed airport with everyone.”
Another added: “Interesting times at #brisbaneairport #bneairport – a security breach has led to *everyone* (shop owners, people on planes, all staff) to evacuate and re-screen through security. Meanwhile security lines are halted until … it’s deemed OK to open again.”
Flights resumed within two hours of the initial saga.
Brisbane Airport Corporation has launched an internal review of the circumstances which led to the incident.