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'Camel' sparks airport probe


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Qantas has stood down a baggage handler after an incident at Sydney Airport.
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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australia's Qantas Airways has stood down a baggage handler responsible for taking an animal costume from a customer's bag checked-in at Sydney Airport.

Qantas has launched an investigation into the April 6 incident in which the owner of the camel suit saw it being worn by a baggage handler driving across the airport tarmac.

The highly embarrassing security breach was witnessed by costume owner David Cox about 20 minutes after he checked his bags in at Sydney Airport, according to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Cox was sitting at Gate 4, waiting to board a Qantas flight, when he was alerted to the occupants of a baggage trolley being driven across the runway.

"I'd heard a little kid say: 'There's a guy with a moose head', but I didn't even think to look," Cox told the newspaper.

"It was a good three or four minutes later I saw the thing go past.

"My jaw dropped...And it wasn't just the one run, it must have gone round a couple of times," he said.

Cox told the newspaper the trolley was being driven by a man wearing the top half of his camel suit.

Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon said on Friday the baggage handler had been stood down pending a full investigation into the incident and would be dismissed if inquiries confirmed initial findings.

Qantas said it had closed-circuit television footage of the handler opening a large bag, which was labeled as containing an animal costume, putting it on his head and going onto the airport tarmac.

"A short time later the costume was returned to the bag," Dixon said.

While the incident raises security questions for Qantas, Dixon defended the airline's record.

"What has happened is completely unacceptable and is unacceptable to the vast majority of decent hardworking Qantas employees," Dixon said.

"Qantas has many systems and procedures in place to mitigate against such behavior and activity and our operational and security record is among the best in the world.

"That said, this incident shows we still have some issues that need to be addressed on the behavioral front," he said.


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