Australian airline workers mull Qatar Airways boycott over invasive passenger searches

Airline workers have accused Qatar of state-sanctioned sexual assault after a group of Australian women were subjected to physical examinations at Doha Airport.

Airport arrival (file picture). Source:

The NSW branch of the Transport Workers' Union will meet tomorrow to decide whether to boycott government-owned Qatar Airways.

The union may ban the servicing, cleaning or refuelling of Qatar planes at Sydney Airport.

"This is just downright sexual assault sanctioned by a government and we can't have that," union boss Richard Olsen told the Nine Network today.

Mr Olsen said the union was stepping in because the federal government had been too slow to respond.

"We don't see any resolutions coming out of Canberra whatsoever, so we're taking a stance," he said.

"We want to ensure that those people that have been involved have a voice and we want to make sure the federal government knows we're watching."

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He warned the airline's planes could be grounded in Sydney "for some time" if the boycott proceeds.

A group of female passengers, including 13 Australians, were subjected to invasive searches earlier this month after a premature baby was found in a bathroom at Hamad International Airport.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has demanded Qatar conduct an urgent investigation into the "grossly disturbing" incident and report back to her by the end of this week.

The federal government and opposition do not support a boycott of Qatar Airways.

But Labor is demanding the Qatari government apologise to the women who were examined, be transparent about the incident and ensure it does not happen again.

Hamad International Airport management said earlier this week there were concerns for the mother's health after the infant was found.

"Individuals who had access to a specific area of the airport where the newborn infant was found were asked to assist in the query," airport management told the ABC.

The baby was reportedly safe and being cared for by medical and social workers.