NSW-Victoria border closure to hit Qantas, Virgin Australia flights

The borders between NSW and Victoria will be shut from 11.59pm on Tuesday July 7.

By David Flynn, July 6 2020
NSW-Victoria border closure to hit Qantas, Virgin Australia flights

The closure of state borders between New South Wales and Victoria from 11.59pm Tuesday July 7 is expected to spark a wave of cancellations for Qantas and Virgin Australia, both of which have just begin to ramp up their domestic flying as travel restrictions began to ease.

The unexpected shut-down of interstate travel follows a second Covid-19 surge in Melbourne, which resulted in the state recording its highest-ever increase in daily cases, with none of those new cases being overseas travellers.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said it was a joint decision made during a teleconference hook-up with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this morning.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard suggested that even "if you're thinking of going to Victoria in next 24-48 hours, our strong suggestion is don’t – do not go."

Travel permits

Andrews said there will be a 'permit system' for necessary travel between the two states, including  "people who live in border communities" such as Albury-Wodonga " to be able to travel to and from for the purposes of work, the purposes of the essential health services they might need."

NSW Premier Berejiklian said "there will always be exemptions due to hardship cases (and) anybody who feels they want to apply for a permit through Service NSW can do so," saying the process would be "very easy."

She added that while "we do anticipate there'll still be flights" between Sydney and Melbourne, "but only for those who’ve got permits and only for those who are returning NSW residents," adding that returning residents "will have to self-isolate."

Service NSW aims to be in a position to accept applications for border passes from Tuesday July 7, although the agency is not yet able to detail the application process, eligibility criteria or how long it would typically take for an application to be granted.

In normal times, Sydney-Melbourne is the world's second-busiest air corridor. The shock decision underscores the volatility of the travel market and the unpredictable nature of its recovery.

Qantas and Virgin Australia began reinstating more flights last month, anticipating a high level of pent-up demand as the winter school holidays approached. 

Qantas' aim was to reach 40% of the pre-crisis domestic capacity for Qantas and Jetstar by the end of July, up from 5% across April and May, although the airline warned on June 4 that that this would depend on "further relaxation of state borders".

Earlier this month, Melbourne Airport suspended all incoming international passenger flights until at least Tuesday July 14.

Qantas will slash the number of flights between Sydney and Melbourne across the rest of July, while a Virgin Australia spokesman said the airline is "reviewing our flight schedule for services between Sydney and Melbourne".

Qantas flight changes and refunds

Qantas passengers wishing to change their flight – whether one between New South Wales and Victoria, or elsewhere across the domestic network – are permitted one complimentary change to the date of their travel.

This applies to flight bookings made between May 21 and July 27 2020, for travel between June 12 and October 31 2020. This free change must be made before the scheduled departure date of the flight that had originally been booked, although a fare difference may apply.

Alternatively, if Qantas cancels the flight, passengers have the option of an alternative flight, a credit voucher to spend on future travel, or a full refund. In this instance, Qantas is also not charging a change fee or cancellation fee.

Qantas flights booked using Qantas Points are instead fully flexible until October 31 2020, with all Classic Flight Reward bookings able to be cancelled without penalty, for a full refund of the points used and taxes and fees paid.

Passengers can then make a new reward booking when they’re ready to fly.

Read: How to get a refund on a cancelled Qantas flight

Virgin Australia flight changes and refunds

Virgin Australia is offering a similar fee waiver for domestic passengers seeking to change their flights, but with an unlimited number of changes on domestic bookings made between April 21 and September 30 2020, for travel until September 30 2020.

Guests can change their travel dates or even their destination, although any fare difference remains payable with each change.

On these bookings, outright cancellations, credits and refunds are only given in line with published fare rules – so while you may be able to change your flight for another, you won’t be able to convert the booking into a cash voucher, or get your money back, unless you purchased a fare type that allows this.

As Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration on April 21, bookings made prior to this date are not currently eligible for cash refunds, even if the fare rules would normally allow this.

Instead, passengers who wish to alter their plans can change the date or destination of their booking with no change fee (fare differences may apply), or can request a ‘conditional credit’ voucher, which can be applied towards a new travel booking at a later date.

Read: Virgin Australia administrators: no refunds, just 'conditional' credit

Passengers who used Velocity Points to book their flight prior to April 21, for travel until September 30 2020, are permitted to change or cancel their booking without penalty, and are eligible for a full refund of the points used and taxes and fees paid.

As Velocity Points were temporary ‘frozen’ when Virgin Australia entered administration, the only reward bookings made after April 21 will relate to travel from September 2020, not throughout July and August.

Also read: Virgin Australia unfreezes Velocity Frequent Flyer points

More to follow...

Additional reporting by Chris Chamberlin

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.

05 May 2016

Total posts 593

Will you still be able to fly from MEL to SYD to connect immediately to an international flight?

22 Mar 2013

Total posts 28

I dont know why people vote-down this comment, but i have the same question as well.

05 May 2016

Total posts 593

I agree. Trying to get a travel exemption (applied for a date last week) and even before this announcement I suspected if approved I would need to depart via Sydney.

I don't have time to quarantine in Sydney on the way to going overseas so may need to make a decision whether to fly up to Sydney before the border closure with no guarantee that the international travel exemption will come through. It's just adding stress to an already stressful situation.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2435

mviy, it's worth noting that as the NSW Premier is now saying that all of Melbourne will be declared a hotspot as of today under a NSW public health, so you couldn't even jump onto a MEL-SYD flight today, let alone ahead of the actual 11.59pm border closure tomorrow.

05 May 2016

Total posts 593

Are you serious? I'm in Melbourne but not in one of the locked down suburbs. I need to leave the country for essential overseas travel to the UK and be out of quarantine (if applied) in a few weeks time and I am in Melbourne. What can I do?

Would have tried to leave on the weekend if my travel exemption had come through.

The UK Is allowing people to arrive without quarantine from Australia from the 10th July so clearly the health advice they're getting is that it's fine for people to travel at their own risk.

If I'm stuck overseas and I go that's a risk I'm willing to take.

you might have to move to NSW now. Can't see why you couldn't fly out of another Vic airport like Bendigo or Mildura, which I think have flights to SYD, but it seems the whole of vic has closed border, which is nuts.

Are we going to have this nonsense going on forever ? May never be a vaccine.

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 105

tough situation I reckon. I think you might be stuck as all states have border restrictions to Victoria now and the Vic gov't has banned all incoming int'l flights so maybe unlikely there will be int'l departure options for you. I sympathise with you but +127 cases today is a second wave :(

06 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

I'm in the same situation. I'm an American and my wife has a USA green card. I'm hoping to fly Melb-->Sydney--> San Fransisco on the 22nd - everything is booked. I'm hoping that with proof of connecting flight out of Sydney that we don't have any issues getting there. I definitely think they'll cancel some of the flights to Sydney but I've read that they are going to keep some of them so hopefully we can just be rescheduled to the day they are flying.

Would love any info if anyone sees anything else about this.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 450

Is ACT open to Victoria and if so does this remain the case? It provides a back door into NSW as well as exposing ACT residents.

05 May 2016

Total posts 593

The ACT tends to follow whatever NSW does in regard to restrictions so I expect the ban will be implemented to there too.

21 Feb 2020

Total posts 6

The ACT can only be accessed, via road, through NSW. I imagine that a flight from Melb to Canberra would now be cancelled.

complete over reaction again. How many deaths in Vic in last month ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 334

So that makes it OK then, does it?

Ryan K - there's absolutely no need to lock down everyone & destroy the economy. Just lock down the unhealthy.

Catch is pollies never admit they were wrong (they could blame poor medical advice/modelling) but they don't seem to want to.

When we've got so little deaths from corona & other countries are opening up like UK/Europe, it makes no sense to destroy lives here (businesses destroyed, suicide, drug & alcohol abuse, welfare dependency & the list goes on), those lives will far exceed the death toll from corona.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2015

Total posts 75

Yes but how long before the "so little deaths from corona" turn into "big deaths from corona"? 3 months ago, the US had a few hundred deaths, now they have 130,000 dead, and that's with lockdowns in place. Are we really having to explain the infectiousness of this virus?

"Just lock down the unhealthy" - but the problem is that we can't identify all of the unhealthy - they might not present for testing or might be asymptomatic and yet at the same time, infectious.

unhealthy has nothing to do with corona.

Basically as you get older the immune system is weaker, so govts could draw a line & say 80 & over stay home. 70 & over travel at your own risk.

& those who are obese + those having cancer treatment & anyone with difficient immune system, those with diabetes etc. Drs can very easily say who shouldn't be travelling.

number of cases is not related to number of deaths, it's who gets corona. Obviously the elderly & their carers would need to be locked down for a period & anyone else with poor immune system, like cancer patients, diabetics, those obese etc.

21 Feb 2020

Total posts 6

My daughter-in-law's niece has it. Mid twenties, healthy, fit ballerina.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

Regular it may have to be people over 20.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2011

Total posts 50

How unhealthy is unhealthy enough to be locked down? What about those not showing symptoms but still being contagious? How do you detect the unhealthy and then enforce that? What about those on the health side of the unhealthy cut off that are just showing less symptoms.

It is all very much a close minded and selfish approach. I'm not sick or I am healthy so I shouldn't be inconvenienced.

the economy is in freefall.

Jobkeeper/jobseeker are not working & need to be wound up fast.

So we either continue to lockdown everyone, almost (no international travel) or just those who are unhealthy.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

Sorry but this is just false. Even overnight, a previously healthy fit 41 year old Broadway performer succumbed to Covid. This disease is deadly to the infirm but dangerous for everyone else. Even those with minor symptoms have been shown as having sustained lung damage that may affect them greatly later in life. We may wish it to be over but unfortunately we have a long way to go before we are clear of this virus.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

Who pray tell is the unhealthy half of hospital patients are under 40.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

Regular there you go again most countries are not opening up see Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

Regular it is not deaths but hospitalisations if it gets away. Note it is currently close to doubling each day. It can quickly fill up hospitals with the 10-15% of positive people who need to be there a couple of weeks each. Report in th UK of one who was in hospital for three months.

29 Mar 2018

Total posts 19

Regular flyer, you should stop commenting because you're making yourself look really silly. Also there were deaths today already. You are part of the problem and that's why we are in the situation we are!

cgoman

not silly at all. Those supporting lockdowns are insane.

Is Albury airport all in NSW or is it right on border like Coolangatta ?

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 123

The airport is just beside the border.

21 Feb 2020

Total posts 6

NSW unfortunately

so Victorians can't fly out of MEL, but they could surely fly out of other Vic airports or must be hundreds of roads from vic to nsw, some very minor, so if someone really wanted to, they could get to say albury airport, which seems to be wholly in NSW (I just checked) & fly from there.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

The NSW government will monitor over 50 border crossings between NSW and Victoria. This includes 33 bridges over the Murray plus most road borders east of the Murray. All incoming aircraft from Victoria as well as trains will also be policed. For those that cross without a permit, there is a $11000 fine or 6 months jail.

Victoria needs to sort out its mess before it has any hope of getting reconnected with the rest of Australia.

suggest there are a lot more ways into NSW including quite a number of back roads & tracks. Have driven over a few that are 4wd only. They simply can't monitor them all. Doubt if anyone will be fined & if there are doubt any fines would be paid. Simply have to go to court & say precendent set by dodgy protests.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

You probably could but why would you bother? Residents in border towns like Mildura, Cobram, Wodonga, Corryong etc will be granted permits so can cross anyway. Everyone else is taking an unnecessary risk particularly as NSW residents have been told not to welcome Victorians for the time being. If you have a pressing need like compassionate grounds etc, you can apply for a permit. The NSW government is not going to change its mind just because a couple of people drive a Landcruiser across some bush-track.

29 Jan 2020

Total posts 22

Whilst Australia has done a good job, consider Taiwan,449 cases 7 deaths, 25 million people on an island half the size of Tasmania.

No major lockdown, but early border closures, and masks mandatory in public.

Masks subsidised by the government, even available at 711 stores.

So apart from Victoria, I believe the continued closure of other state borders is an over reaction.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

Taiwan also has strict social distancing and border closures not unlike Australia

07 May 2020

Total posts 72

The panic in Australia over Corona beggars belief. I have been stuck in Germany for 4 months. Germany has 4 times the population of Australia and about 9000 deaths compared with 105 deaths in Australia. Germany gets on with life and a slow but steady recovery. On the other hand it looks like the Australian government is subjecting their citizens to a slow a painful economic suicide by knee jerk reactions. So sad to see.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

GoRobin I just checked and Germany has whole towns in lockdown (unlike Melbourne) and 14 day (home) quarantine for most arrivals from most places outside Schengen. I presume the German police are more efficient than their Australian counterparts in enforcing quarantine!!). Apart from that most of Australia is open or more open than Germany apart from the much higher case load death toll per capita it is hard to see what your point is.

Qantas

02 May 2016

Total posts 56

It's a little surprising that after 6 months of this, and strong testing capability in Australia, that governments haven't mandated a medical COVID test before travelling anywhere, across borders or on planes or anywhere......seems like it would be a whole lot more effective than shutting borders, policing them, the logistics of applying for and managing permits etc etc.

A negative result today doesn't mean you won't be positive in a week, but its gotta be a whole lot more effective. The economic disruption is crazy when some countries have got 100 cases before you even have your morning coffee.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

cr when the testing gets more accurate and the proportion of false negatives comes down that may work, but for it to work now it would have to be two tests a week apart and home quarantine in between.

07 May 2020

Total posts 72

patrickk...enjoy your lockdown. At least the German communities can challenge the authorities and get lockdowns lifted immediately on the basis of "unreasonable". As I said, I think Australia is going to remain in a state of panic for a long time. Lockdowns will never work in the long term. Unless the lockdown is permanent.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

I'm not sure any in Australia is unreasonable or at least nobody is saying so. Only current lockdown in Australia is in Melbourne with exponential increases cases. I'm sure Germany does the same in communities with exponential growth in cases. Of course feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1141

GoRobin I'm in Canberra no lockdown here or most of th rest of the country. Probably much the same as in Germany.


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