Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

Queenslanders cannot expect international flights to increase until future COVID-19 restrictions are made clearer and there is a fixed deadline for quarantine-free travel, industry leaders say.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents, Board of Airline Representatives of Australia and Brisbane Airport Corporation say airlines can not commit to reinstating or re-establishing international flights in or out of Brisbane due to persistent uncertainty about border closures, quarantine and COVID-19- Test requirements.

A spokesman for Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the Queensland Vaccine Plan for Family Reunification “clearly states” that once 90 per cent of Queensland residents aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, there will be no border restrictions or quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government was still “looking” to hit the 90 percent vaccination rate “around the beginning of January”, but that will depend on how quickly the 80 percent double dose target was reached.

But infectious disease expert Paul Griffin said it was still not clear when or if Queensland would hit 90 percent due to ongoing vaccination dust, though that is a realistic target.

Travelers want “clarity”

Australian CEO Barry Abrams said the airlines did not have clear guidance on testing and quarantine arrangements, nor did they have a fixed reopening date.

“Since we have asked all the jurisdictions, we want clarity regarding the schemes, we need so much consistency, we actually do not want to operate to five different countries when we come to Australia,” he said.

“Ultimately, we’re after a fixed date [for quarantine-free travel], and then we also need to know the details of how the schemes will work in practice. “

Sir. Abrams said the industry needed clarity on the requirements, including COVID-19 testing on arrival, restrictions for passengers entering specific locations, such as elderly care, what self-isolation measures would be in place for 13- to 17-year-olds and international flight crews. . .

“If the industry says they need more clarity, they say it because it’s an important thing, instead of telling the industry that there is that clarity. The other option is to say we can meet with the industry. and understand what is needed and how we are going to address it. “

Fear of not being able to get home

Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Dean Long said it was very difficult for airlines to operate out of Brisbane due to the border position.

He said anyone traveling out of Queensland will have to travel through New South Wales and Victoria to access international flights, primarily due to reduced demand in general.

Long said the top body recently examined more than 600 people and found that the two main barriers to travel were people’s concern that they would not be able to return home and the lack of information provided by governments around about in the world.

In a statement, Brisbane Airport said without certainty about the date of the reopening of the border that the airlines could not “afford to commit to services to Brisbane Airport” and that the companies chose to take flights to markets where they knew they could sell tickets.

“With Sydney and Melbourne now open to quarantine-free travel, they are clearly a priority,” the statement said.

“We also compete with all the other airports and travel markets in the world, and many of them are open now, so airlines place their planes where they can make money.”

Recently, Emirates Vice President of Australasia Barry Brown estimated that flights to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney would not return to 2019 levels until at least 2023.

The spokesman for Mr Hinchliffe said New South Wales and Victoria had already reached their 90 per cent full vaccination target, while Queensland’s average was around 75 per cent.

“The sooner 90 per cent of all Queensland residents are fully vaccinated, the sooner the state can welcome fully vaccinated international visitors back and boost the recovery of Queensland’s tourism industry,” the spokesman said.

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What COVID-19 travel insurance does not cover you for(Emilia Terzon)

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