Terrorists, drug traffickers and fugitives can criss-cross the country undetected because of holes in airport security checks for domestic flights.

Aviation security expert Maggie Plumb, who has been researching how easily criminals can fly domestically without detection, said her review of organised crime investigations showed laws were needed to force passengers to show photographic identification before boarding internal flights.

Her findings have increased pressure on the Federal Government to tighten security protocols, which are so lax someone can board a plane without having to show identification.

Ms Plumb said safety was being compromised because airline officials could never be sure who was on a plane. The lax checks also made it difficult for police to track criminals.

"It's a huge risk and it is being totally ignored," she said. "We know terrorism and organised crime are inextricably linked because one funds the other."

Ms Plumb said that in one case, a criminal who had associates flying around the country for him kept a log of the false names he used so they were not used too often. In another, a man flew from Melbourne to Perth each fortnight under his own name but there was no record of return flights.

Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) vice-president Richard Woodward supported photo identification screening at all checkpoints, especially departure gates.

He said it was just as important to know who was on a flight as well as what was on the plane. Despite authorities' assurances, cleaners and others who serviced aircraft were often not screened and they could leave items hidden on the plane for a criminal associate flying as a passenger to find, Capt. Woodward said.

Michael Carmody, a former head of security at the Federal Airports Corporation, said Australia was one of the few places where non-flyers were let into screened departure areas - so even if a person had shown identification when checking in baggage they could then hand the ticket to others.

A spokeswoman for Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the focus was on what materials were getting on board.

"Consistent with international practice, the Australian Government implements a range of security screening measures at domestic airports that focus on making sure weapons and other prohibited items are not carried on planes," she said.

Qantas said its procedures to ensure passengers' safety were in line with Government regulations.

The Australian Federal Police and WA Police declined to comment.

The West Australian

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