Melbourne to resume international flights from December 7

Victorian premier Dan Andrews says Melbourne will once again welcome overseas flights.

By David Flynn, November 20 2020
Melbourne to resume international flights from December 7

International flights to Melbourne will restart on December 7, in a move which will also ease the capacity constraints on Australians returning home from overseas.

Arriving passengers will still be required to spend 14 days in quarantine, under a revamped scheme developed after the outbreak of a crippling 'second wave' some five months ago.

A spokeswoman for Victorian Premier Dan Andrews confirmed the December 7 date this afternoon "to allow the final preparations for Victoria's reset quarantine accommodation program for returned travellers to take place."

Under the nationwide system of limiting arrivals, Melbourne will see an initial cap of 160 passengers a day or 1,120 per week.

By comparison, Sydney currently accepts 2,950 passengers per week, with around 1,000 per week at Brisbane and Perth.

An interim report into Victoria's previous hotel quarantine scheme by retired judge Jennifer Coate has outlined a raft of measures including a 'hybrid model' of hotel and home quarantine.

This could see international arrivals from low-risk countries able to isolate at home rather than paying for a hotel.

Home isolation on option?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed last month that a ‘traffic light’ system would rank nations according to how they were tracking with Covid-19 infections.

Passengers coming from ‘red’ countries and regions would continue to spend a fortnight in hotel isolation, while arrivals from ‘amber’ destinations may be allowed to quarantine at home.

Entry from a country or territory zoned ‘green’ would not require any quarantine period – as is now the case for travellers arriving from New Zealand into selected Australian airports – and would also apply to  two-way 'travel bubbles', provided the passenger hasn't visited any ‘amber’ or ‘red’ destinations in the previous 14 days.

Smartphones or electronic wristbands would be used to help enforce home quarantine.

Lightweight GPS-enabled bracelets are already used in a number of countries including Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.

They typically connect to a smartphone app and are used to make sure people actually stay at home by reporting the wearer's location to a government monitoring service.

Singapore's wristband, which also generates an alert if it has been removed or tampered with, is complemented by a program under which the wearer receives text messages, phone calls and sometimes even video calls from the country's health agency, which must be responded to.

Read more: Government considers electronic wristbands for home isolation

PREVIOUS [ July 13, 2020] | International flights into and out of Melbourne are expected to restart later this month, in a move which will also ease the capacity constraints on Australians returning home from overseas.

An interim report on Victoria's failed hotel quarantine program is due to be tabled this Friday, and will include recommendations on establishing a revised quarantine program for arriving travellers.

Melbourne put a stop to all inbound international passenger flights in early July, following a surge in coronavirus cases which lit the touchpaper on a dramatic 'second wave' lasting almost four months.

Victorian state premier Dan Andrews said the report would lay the groundwork for limited overseas flights to resume.

Timetable for a restart

"We need to do this properly and we will need to look at what is in that report but as soon as we can safely have that system set up and have those flights returning, we will and I am very confident we will be able to have that well before Christmas," he said.

"I think it is probably toward the end of November rather than the middle, I would think."

Andrews said the resumption of flights would contribute to a national push to see Australians stranded overseas return home for Christmas.

"We should be able to hit the agreed target we agreed to at National Cabinet and it is to have flights returning, people reunited with their families for Christmas."

Melbourne Airport is nominally the country's second-busiest gateway, and the extended closure put pressure on other states – primarily New South Wales – to shoulder the load of 14 days in hotel quarantine under the federal government's cap on arriving passengers.

That currently sits at just shy of 6,300 passengers per week, with Sydney taking in 2,950 passengers per week, followed by around 1,000 each at Brisbane and Perth, and 600 at Adelaide.

Darwin was recently added to the list, hosting the return leg of Qantas flights from London and India with a dedicated quarantine hub for arriving passengers.

The federal government's intent is to see all state borders reopened by the end of this year, with the prospect of international travel bubbles to other countries where Covid is considered under control from early 2021.

New Zealand, Pacific Islands such as Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan are expected to be early contenders for those Covid-safe air corridors

Qantas has also indicated it may start direct flights to Taiwan and South Korea if those countries joined the bubblesphere.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 161

International flights never stopped into and out of Melbourne. You can still fly out of Melbourne (assuming you can get approval from the dear supreme government in Canberra). What is resuming is hotel quarantine. 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

It is an important step given it means Victoria will be able to participate in any international travel bubbles the Federal Government may agree on.  It is possible that, assuming numbers remain low, you will be able to fly quarantine-free to and from NZ and Singapore by the end of January.  

05 May 2016

Total posts 593

To get everyone wants to come home, home for Christmas, Vic needs to move quickly to take around as many arrivals as Sydney and other states like QLD need to scale up to take a similar amount. I would be surprised if that happens though. I suspect Vic will start with a small program and build it up over time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 556

.. and you can bet that a large swathe of the early allocation will be floated towards international Tennis players for the various State Titles eg: NSW Open, QLD Open etc to be held at Rod Laver Arena - as well as the Australian Open Grand Slam event.

Low key risk, since many of these celebrity players will be able to afford to pay for exemptions involving alternate 'Quarantine' plans.

02 Nov 2020

Total posts 1

Hi, does that mean that all multiple rentry visa holders can travel to melbourne now

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 124

If you have a travel exemption, and you can get a flight ticket in, the answer is yes.

With personal experience trying to bring someone inside Australia, they got rejected 5 times (they were living in NZ), and only approved the 6th time, after quarantine free status was provided by australia. 

03 Nov 2020

Total posts 1

Does this means everyone who (still) have a valid visa can come to Vic? I wanna go there sooooo bad

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 285

No one is certain what is the weekly numbers allowed to VIC from next month, and although I suspect the tennis players and essential entourage may interfere with availability of business seats, it may mean the airlines may allow economy seats to be purchased on certain flights since they are not counted towards the hotel quarantine (presumably). 

If you are Australian resident trying to return from overseas, to may be better off with flying to Sydney with their 2500+ per week quota and hop over via domestic after the hotel quarantine 

Mind you the Supreme Council Offfice Master of the Order will have to create a special dispensation for these players; cricket sports in holiday season is vital and essential to national interests (hence the exemption to Indian players next month), the Boxing Day test is fair dinkum Aussie tradition, but tennis..... ;)

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 285

Oops, didn’t read the updates on VIC, with quota just over 1k per week.... How likely are you going to get on the flights to MEL?

NSW doing the heavy lifting still

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

Putri the answer is yes but the numbers will be few only low hundreds per week so tickets will be expensive business class mostly.

20 Nov 2020

Total posts 1

the united states would 100% be a red country...does this mean they are allowed to come to melbourne  and isolate for 2 weeks? 

05 May 2016

Total posts 593

If they are eligible for entry to Australia and if an airline chooses to fly e.g. LAX to MEL under the restrictions then yes they would spend 2 weeks in hotel quarantine.

Due to arrivals cap there will be limited seats on flights and it would likely be very expensive and there could be a long wait to secure the mostly business class seats available.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 161

Melbourne as a city is nearly as large as Sydney. Why are they only taking 1120 people, 62% fewer people than Sydney

Because of the hotel quarantine failure Melbourne has not been able to pull its weight leaving thousands stranded abroad. And instead of playing catchup to bring people home, they are taking a minimal amount. 

Another case of the rest of the country being propped up by NSW.

27 Aug 2013

Total posts 29

KW72, it is in Australia’s interest for Melbourne to gradually build up to the levels that Sydney is taking. No one is interested in Melbourne prioritising catching up to “pull their weight” over the reintroduction of a hotel quarantine system that is safe and sustainable 

20 Nov 2020

Total posts 1

Will international students be able to return as well?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

Bahalr they will but certainly not until next year. The political optics are too bad, but gladys in NSW is pushing hard. I’m sure they will use student hostels as quarantine places but we shall see.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 33

Supreme Leader Dan Andrews better learn his lesson this time by using the ADF and VicPol to guard the quarantined guests, rather than dodgy private security guards !

As a Melbournian, i really hope there will be no more stuff ups this time, and that this time, the hotel quarantine program will work.

And i can't understand why the state and federal governments are reluctant to use tracking devices to track quarantined travellers. Surely by using these devices, home quarantines could be used too.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

Desa the problem with tracking devices is that they track the travellers not their visitors. People returning from months abroad would find it difficult to say no to visitors who haven’t seen them in months, while people here quarantining for being positive will usually have some symptoms to focus their minds. Travel bubbles may work on this basis, but more broadly with such high positive rates up to  5% with travellers from many places, authorities don’t want to risk letting them out.

27 Aug 2013

Total posts 29

The voice of reason again patrickk. Your posts are always on the mark

27 Aug 2013

Total posts 29

Home quarantine will be an absolute disaster. Another wave would be inevitable when family members who live with recently returned travellers catch it and then spread it further as they go about their daily lives. The counter argument is that people should have the choice of a hotel or home and can be trusted to do the right thing. Are you prepared to gamble your health and ongoing freedom on the lowest common denominators doing the right thing? I’m not.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 237

I can just see all the hysterical people opposing a move towards home quarantine. I think it will happen, but definitely not until next year.

27 Aug 2013

Total posts 29

I’m not being hysterical, I’m being practical. You don’t leave the fox in charge of the henhouse

10 Apr 2020

Total posts 7

Unlikely to see many returning in time for xmas. After adding 14 days quarantine there’s only a window of 3 days.

16 Nov 2018

Total posts 23

Japan and Hong Kong should be taken off the contenders list.

Malaysia Airlines - Enrich

24 Jan 2014

Total posts 1

As a UK citizen, and after the vaccine is rolled out, would we be able to travel to a bubble country, self isolate for the required period, then be allowed to fly into Australia?

07 May 2016

Total posts 17

Re: "Home quarantine will be an absolute disaster."

Disagree. I understand that hotel quarantine safety has been improved in various places in Australia but still from what I read it has not been an unmitigated success. My son works in the USA and as a returning Canadian is allowed to drive north through the border as long as he goes directly home with a pre-approved 14 day quarantine plan in place. and checks in with the health authorities during the quarantine period. People understand this is serious and stuff and there is little flouting of the rules. There is no more risk for all if he is isolated in the basement in his mother's house rather than in a hotel with security around and different people bringing food etc.  With an approved plan and multiple checks in place I vote for home quarantine.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 237

I heard in the UK there has been a lot of flouting of the rules. Some countries have returned to hotel quarantine, after first allowing home quarantine for a while because too many people weren't following the rules, they wanted more control, or as a way of hotels generating income.


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