Some foreign airlines could suspend Australian flights

There are concerns that some overseas airlines will suspend Australian flights owing to the 50% cut in passenger arrivals.

By David Flynn, July 2 2021
Some foreign airlines could suspend Australian flights

International airlines will be forced to re-evaluate flying to Australia for at least the next six months, following today's decision by the federal government to halve the number of overseas passengers allowed into the country.

Prime Minster Scott Morrison said today that international arrivals to Australia will be limited to just over 3,000 passengers per week – down from a current cap of 6,000 – until early 2022, although home quarantine would be trialled for vaccinated travellers later this year.

While Morrison said the measure was a necessary response to containing the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, it could see several foreign airlines cease flying to Australia entirely until those caps are lifted sometime in 2022.

The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, which represents 33 major international carriers who in normal times operate 90% of all international passenger flights to the country, warned that some airlines could have no choice but to pull the plug.

Under the previous 6,000 passengers per week cap, several of the world's largest airlines – among them Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways – could typically carry around 35 travellers (around 10% of their total capacity) on each flight to Australia.

"Despite all the effort they've put in, it gets to a point where the only rational response is to suspend operations to Australia, perhaps for a very long period of time," BARA executive director Barry Abrams said in a media statement.

"There'll be a reduction in the level of connectivity available to Australians overseas to get home."

The government plans to boost the number of underwritten flights which operate as charter services – the bulk of which have been flown by Qantas – and arrive at Darwin's dedicated Howard Springs quarantine facility, which is now said to have ample spare capacity.

"There will be a decrease in the commercial arrivals but an increase in what are called the facilitated arrivals to Howard Springs in the Northern Territory," noted Meanwhile, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt

"We know that some of those flights have in fact been under-subscribed in recent weeks so there is that capacity to bring additional Australians home via Howard Springs."

However, Morrison has acknowledged that the additional repatriation flights "obviously can't fully ameliorate the impact of the reduction of 50%, particularly out of Sydney."

Airlines study impact of 50% cut to arrivals

A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines told Executive Traveller that the airline "will continue to work closely with the Australian authorities to determine what, if any impact, the reduction in caps has on our operations to Australia."

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have remained steadfast in our commitment to ensure Australia remains connected to the world via our Singapore hub."

"We remain committed to the Australian market and will remain nimble and flexible in the deployment of capacity to ensure it meets demand and is commercially sustainable."

For carriers like Singapore Airlines, flights to Australia are these days more about cargo than passengers.

"By carrying cargo at least there's some revenue we can earn, even though there are almost no passengers travelling," Louis Arul, Singapore Airlines' regional vice president South West Pacific, told Executive Traveller last month.

Under a new four-stage plan for Australia's recovery from the pandemic, which Morrison described as "the pathway out of COVID-19", Phase 2 – which isn't expected to begin until 2022 – will see limits on inbound unvaccinated passengers return to their previous levels, although there would be "larger caps for vaccinated returning travellers."

"New reduced quarantine arrangements for vaccinated residents" would be introduced, such as home isolation, which will be trialled in Adelaide later this year.

Read more: Australia's overseas arrivals slashed, home quarantine to be trialled

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.

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 97

As an importer who uses airfreight this will kill business to Australia. Airfreight costs are already at all time high! 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

In the precovid days, the volume of airplanes with paying pax help subsidised airfreight costs but I would have thought there is so few flights now (I guess maybe 15-20 incoming and outgoing pax flights, not including NZ bubble) such that there is not that much capacity afforded by pax planes compared to freight planes .

I would admit though freight forwarders will easily use these cancellations as an excuse to jack up prices.

Qantas

22 Oct 2012

Total posts 295

I doubt that it's the number of arrivals into hotel quarantine that is the cause of outbreaks from the hotels and limo drivers.  Rather, it's the fact that hotels are not designed to be quarantine facilities.  Australia needs purpose built quarantine facilities.

Additionally, everyone associated with potentially infected travellers, such as limo drivers for airline crew, must be vaccinated or be employed elsewhere.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Jun 2020

Total posts 3

Purpose built quarantine facilities are merely a distraction to try win the election from both sides and offer no real purpose. By the time these facilities are built, we will be fully vaccinated, so what's the point of spending billions on something that won't have much use? Unless of course, the plan is to maintain some form of quarantine for several years, in which case goodbye to the Australian economy

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

Other countries, particularly Singapore (where much of our COVID-19 measure is based on) did not have these outrageous numbers of leak from hotel quarantine. In fact I am not aware of any country which is building quarantine facilities in response to COVID-19.

IMO it is how the hotel quarantine is run and they need to stop blaming the hotel ventilation or security guards or food handlers etc. If you look at Singapore for example it’s no nonsense and none of those mistakes like keeping the room door open for 40 minutes because it’s difficult to get a swab test done on a child (as it was given as an excuse). I don’t believe hotels in Singapore have better air conditioning system (anyone who had stayed in some 5 star hotels know it can be even quite stuffy) and many of their hotel staff and security guards do not have as high level of education as those casual or part time workers we had for hotels here so I seriously believe the quarantine leak in the scale we are seeing is more or less a predominately an Australian problem.

Ok, those detractors, you can fire away and prove me wrong.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Several countries are building or rather, using existing facilities as "field hospitals" to serve increasing patient loads. These facilities may include schools, temples and sports stadiums. Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, as well as Laos are just some of the countries which have been using this strategy in recent months.

This is due to their mandatory isolation policies for PCR positive patients. In Australia, I understand Queensland is the only state to implement the same policy, regardless of whether a patient has symptoms or not.

26 May 2011

Total posts 17

The airlines should halt lights. They have been losing money flying here for more than 12 months despite the freight. Pull out the capacity - see freight, mail, exports etc suffer. That is the only way the country is going to learn thier lesson. Flights are not the cause of these outbreaks

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 97

100’s of Australian businesses rely on airfreight in and out of the country it will hurt us even more then the 2-3x normal rates we are paying!

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 40

This is a disaster. You might as well consider this a form of societal collapse for Australia. I don't understand how people can remain calm about this. We have idiotic politicians with far too much power right now. Something like this needs to go before Parliament!

Australia under this government with scomo and barnaby Joyce, holds no future lol. What's worse is that people are suffering from a such none sense policy making!!! By such trend, the foreign airlines might as well cut the flights to oz, cos it is not worth the trip without passengers!!! 

15 Aug 2018

Total posts 26

What a joke. There is no plan. No numbers, no dates, no percentage vax rate. Nothing. 

This is a fake “4 phase plan”. 

Never mind, the QLD Premier who jumped the Pfizer queue will be able to go to the Olympics and back, meanwhile in the next 3 months alone 36,000 stuck Aussies bookings will be cancelled due to the caps being halved. (3000 a week cut x 12 weeks).

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

Considering Brisbane is the only viable bid which reach the stage of IOC board approval for 2032, as it was quoted in many places: “ It is expected to become the first host city to win the bid unopposed.”

So there is really no pressing need for the premier to attend the bidding meeting in Tokyo except to bask in the glory of a sure-win.

Jmb
Jmb

20 Sep 2019

Total posts 12

They made such a debacle of the Commonwealth Games, sending many of us business here on the Gold Coast into super hard times in what should have normally been our second busiest peak of the year for tourism yet it was almost zero, again with the ALP State Gov'ts incompetence and the muppet Beatty heading it up. Why do we even be wanting to attract the Olympics here after such a disgraceful performance they did with the Comm Games

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 238

I hope that every airline stops flights to Australia. 

Politicians and a lot of the population in this country have become insular, heartless and selfish. We need to be taught a harsh lesson.

Ohh yeah, u got the point lol

Airlines will stop as even with freight are loosing money.

It will be the Australian public who will suffer more as politicians will just take charter flights when want to go anywhere, same as sports people.

The Federal governments plan is a joke, you need targets and deadlines. Australians deserve better and it is already 15 months that people are not able to reunite with loved ones.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 49

What do you expect when airlines are only allowed to bring in 10 passengers per flight to Australia ?! The federal and state governments are a  sick joke.

JJM
JJM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 19

Big thank you to the Labor Premiers who championed this idiocy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 192

Does SA not count?

And TAS who doesnt take any?

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 185

The worst part of this is that much of the developed world is either already in recovery mode or is well advanced in getting to that stage.  Cutting Australia off even more than it is will put Australia at a huge disadvantage for years to come.  Even NZ has not made the same move despite a few hotel ‘leaks’ as well.

03 May 2021

Total posts 7

Australia was doing so well at COVID, and the border closures worked, however now other countries have rolled out the vaccines and are opening up, both internally and to the rest of the world. Meanwhile Australia still with Like 4% fully vaccinated will be closed for a long time.

Jmb
Jmb

20 Sep 2019

Total posts 12

Honestly how hard is it to control an island. They did an amazing job in the beginning but now it is an absolute disgrace. With no forward thinking other than lock the door and keep them out, all of them are showing themselves as complete incompent muppets. Scare the general non thinking public and make them beleive this is a good way to keep us all 'safe', allow the media to run riot with blowing out stories and inflaming unthruths or twisting stories for sensationalism and allow the power hungry, power wielding jokes of state governments like our maniac QLD Premier and Govt to control us all. 

The world is moving forward and we are going backwards

And our amazing QLD State saviour and her government,  when we are all struggling to survive, are awarding themselves with pay rises - are you kidding me!! And then have the hide to say it was not her decision to award this.

S
S

13 Sep 2013

Total posts 115

"Doing so well at COVID"!?!?! Australia fell ass backwards into an accidental Covid Zero Strategy. Then claim they're the envy of the world. 

Now they have absolutely no clue how to get out of it. I don't really think it's anything to be proud of. 

I can tell you as an Aussie living overseas, Australia is seen as a massive joke in the global community.

I am an Aussie citizen and live at oversea since 2014, and I would like to say that I couldn't disagree with your comment at 100%!!! Australians under these idiot politicians, they are just gonna lead Australia separated from the world map! And feed its citizens with fake news lol

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

At first I was surprised that Australia didn't mandate masks at a national level since March 2020 given how much of a nanny state the country has become. Of course, several states have imposed such mandates, on and off, since then, but most Aussies have been able to live mostly normal lives throughout much of this crisis...well, until relatively recently that is.

Up until a couple of months ago, I thought state and territory politicians were rather reasonable (in some respects) with the exception of Victoria, since lockdowns, mask mandates and other harsh measures were not implemented. All that changed when state capitals such as Perth and then Brisbane started locking down over 2 or 3 domestic cases, which is just laughable. Then you have mandatory masks everywhere in public (or all indoor spaces) over just a few cases.

Countries that were looking overly authoritarian and incompetent such as Thailand are now not looking so bad. Thailand only imposed mandatory masks nationwide after the daily Covid case load increased to almost 2000 a day and has been in the thousands ever since. There is no lockdown as such either.

Of course I'm not here to praise Thailand either, since they haven't done particularly well not to mention some of the rules defy logic. Just that they've gone from a complete lack of common sense to somewhat more logic over the past year, whereas Australia has gone backwards.

I mean, if one case forces a city or state wide mask mandate and lockdown, then it clearly shows a level of knee jerk reaction and lack of common sense I can't even begin to fathom.

27 Jun 2020

Total posts 16

Yes we are. When I was in Australia it wasn’t so bad but now on the outside looking in I see how archaic it seems

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 185

Compare Australia with Singapore.  

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1294

I’m sure Qantas will happily fill the gap. The less tge competition the greater the loads for Qantas. It is already flying freight in its A330s, in the absence of alternatives it may be able to fly a hundred or so passengers on each freight flight and will get the additional revenue. I think there will be more London flights to Darwin now as well as LA flights as repatriation charters.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

It is obvious that the NSW premier was reluctant to participate in halving the arrival caps, and she is certainly not asking for it even though NSW was in the midst of a COVID-19 spike for the last 2 weeks. 

And funny enough NSW was taking in more than 50% of the intake even before this reduction in cap, so if NSW keep its 3700+ arrivals per week cap it really makes the other states look bad and brings the NSW share to probably 75% (if NSW remains unchanged while the rest cut their cap).

Not sure how true the agreement of international arrival caps is binding (from the state point of view as some premiers claim) but certainly this narrative sure help to force the federal government to lean on NSW to accept the cap cut to maintain a unified front (even though ScoMo’s announcement on vaccine access to Astravenica vaccine for under 40s or 60s or whatever, already destroyed that illusion)

Jmb
Jmb

20 Sep 2019

Total posts 12

What is there for us to do to try and get things changed? How can voices be heard to make the governments begin to make progressive steps not regressive and start to act for the betterment of the country.

at the moment Australia feels like it has become the latest communist dictatorial country being treated like puppets locked in the country, locked in our homes when the government strategies are not working, having our incomes for so many of us obliterated. Not once have the politicians had to suffer financially from their decisions and their policieis, taking home their full pay packets each and every week and for some, awarding themselves pay rises for their complete and utter incompetence.

How much longer can we go on like this?

what can be done to have our voices heard?

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 603

The A380's may be back sooner than we think

The parasitic/opportunistic media has added too much fuel to the vaccine hysteria(shut up already)

If the state governments(except NSW) were a pvt enterprise I'm sure the leadership team would have been sacked by the Board long ago

The simple answer is just get vaccinated=problem/s solved!

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 185

And rather than cut arrivals they should say that effective immediately vaccinated travelers can come and go as they please, subject to a negative covid test before traveling to Australia if thats what they want.  That would be far more positive and based on evidence from around the globe have almost zero risk to Australia.

j13
j13

13 Jan 2021

Total posts 6

Aggie57, Perfect solution proven effective overseas but unfortunately we have low level politicians at state and federal levels, all concerned only with political point scoring and not solving the problem.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2016

Total posts 50

Rubbish!  Countries like Singapore need food security and SIA doesn't have enough freighters.  So they will continue to fly their passenger planes into Australia, fill them to the brim with produce and any passengers paying astronomical prices will be a bonus.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Singapore could import more food from much closer neighbors like Malaysia and Thailand rather than Australia. I know Australian produce is considered to be of higher quality, but just saying there are alternatives. Of course there's also Europe as well.

SIA has no obligation to serve Australia, it chooses to, because a large portion of the meals served on Singaporean tables comes from Australia, whether it's meat or beverages or fresh produce or even processed food like cakes, biscuits, sweets etc. Singaporean supermarkets seem to devote like 1/4 of their aisles to Australian produce, possibly the highest % of any country in Asia.

By contrast, THAI operates a bare minimum of flights to Aus, mostly just serving Sydney twice a week. Now that's not because Thailand has less of an important trade relationship with Australia compared to Singapore. The difference is that most of Thailand's exports to Australia are manufactured goods such as cars, that are transported by sea. Australia exports mostly fresh produce and processed food and very little in the way of manufactured capital goods, hence why there is less need for frequent freight flights between the two countries. While there is a fair amount of Thai produce in Australian supermarkets and vice versa, it accounts for perhaps 5-10% of the total stock, thus much less than Singapore.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 14

At the end of the day, it is the vast majority of Australians who do not have any needs to be connected internationally or whose ideas of a lovely holiday is to do camping by the beach in Noosa or some other similar parts in Australia.

The general population sentiment is for COVID-19 elimination (regardless how delusional that is). Anything to do with international travel is solely the needs of recent migrants (who seem to be portrayed as somehow less Australians than 3rd or 4th generation Australian-born Australian) or the over-privileged. They reward the politicians with landslide victory by closing borders, even internal borders, and now every politicians who are up for a re-election soon will want a slice of that pie.

Remember, COVID is a blessing for many white-collar workers in industries not affected by COVID or international travel (think Finance, DIY home iprovement, and something similar). Work from home. Tigthening job market. Higher salary. Higher AUD good for online shopping. Why do they want the border to open? Seriously. We can't fight the crowd.

Unless we can change the mindset and attitude of the majority of population, we will be here for a long time to go. Politicians are supposed to be leader, not pandering to the mass. But this is exactly how politicians work nowadays. Being a proper and visionary leader hurts the poll number!

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 90

If our Federal Government is really serious about allowing Australians to come home and or travel, set some qualifications: 

1. All wishing to come home be vaccinated and be prepared to prove it

2. Upon arrive be prepared to be tested and if free from the disease, be prepared to self isolate at home

3. Mandate that all personnel likely to have contact with returning pax be vaccinated and regularly tested. Refusal to comply means no job

4. Australians who seek to travel for specific reasons, such as job transfers or visit elderly relatives give written assurance to comply with 1 and 2 and accept in writing that they accept the necessary punishment for breaching the  conditions

This way, we would avoid the states controlling the scenario and their de facto control over Australians, rather than the  Federal Government where the ultimate responsibility should rest for entry and or departure. 

This scenario would avoid airlines shutting down on flights to Australia and bring relief to frustrated recreational travellers eager to resume their flights with the airlines currently being forced to reduce and or potentially cancel more passenger seats.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Totally disagree with this concept. A product that is under emergency use authorisation (EUA) can't possibly be mandated. How can an Australian citizen be denied entry to his/her own country, especially for refusing a medical procedure? This raises lots of legal questions and is against the constitution and international conventions.

Not everyone who wants to be vaccinated, can be. In many countries there are shortages, which may last for several months or more. In Thailand, some groups of foreign nationals are being vaccinated, others are not, which depends on their status (such as being a work permit holder) and/or province of residence. The priority is to vaccinate local citizens according to government policy. Some foreigners (especially liberals) don't want the Chinese vaccine (Sinovac) or even AstraZeneca (the only two currently available), and are waiting for the mRNA vaccines, which won't be available for many months.

In other countries such as in Africa, only 1% of the population has been vaccinated and any Aussies stuck there have little to no hope of getting a vaccine, even if they want one.

Legal, moral and ethical issues aside, you can't start mandating something that is in short supply and can't easily be obtained.

EP
EP

07 Jul 2021

Total posts 1

I am an Aussie living in Europe who has just spent 2 ½weeks travelling through 5 countries and transitting through 2 more. Europeans holiday away. Where I live, around 45% of the population is fully vaccinated.  It is not one of the wealthier countries, quite the contrary.  Our medical system is severely lacking here, unlike Australia.  Lock downs were enforced to prepare the health system,  no other reason. Vaccines were offered from 26 December2020. 100,000 vaccines are administered per day. With our vaccination certificates,  we  are able to stay in hotels, eat out, catch ferries, cross  borders etc. Europe is open and living with the virus as WHO recommended. It isn't going anywhere. Why is Australia pretending it is on another planet. I cannot get home to see my family and they can't visit me. I still cannot understand why Australia is locked in. In the last 15 months since Australia has been cut off, myself and my family, have travelled several times to other countries while Australia has had snap lockdowns for 10 cases.  Masks have become a normal part of life here. Respect the virus and get on with living and allow families to reunite. Covid is old news. 

27 Jun 2020

Total posts 16

Agree.. I’ve flown home to Australia twice in the past year. No issues. Quarantine both times. No infections in my hotels. Both efficient. My trips... once to check on my 95 year old mum during Covid and visit specialists for any upcoming major op. Second time the major heart op and recovery. 

Once back on the states... no one talks of Covid. Everyone is vaccinated, life goes on.. business booming. People travelling. Normal gatherings. Etc. 

I need once again to return to Australia in October but airfares are in the 5,000 range with no respite. Then quarantine for 3000. Cosy business as the rest of the world moves forward. 

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Margie, I'm inclined to call you a masochist for willingly going through all that. Must have been very tough. I can understand needing to get back to see your mum of course. Just that personally, I probably would have done what you have, only once.

I'm so jealous of the USA that I'm looking at ways of migrating there (I have lived there in the past). They really value their freedoms and I envy their back to business attitude. With the exception of a few states such as New York using vaccine certificates for access to large events, most of the rest of the country is open with little to no restrictions compared to pre-Covid life. Only in limited settings, such as on public transport and some nationwide stores, are masks still required or strongly recommended. Other than that, life almost resembles 2019 or early 2020. Meanwhile, life in Australia is starting to resemble America 12 months ago. Sad.

Jmb
Jmb

20 Sep 2019

Total posts 12

@thefreqflyer i am sure you are not the only one looking at leaving Australia and relocating to another country. This ahs really shown up what completely power hungry, incompetent, pathetic politicians and governments Australia has and how they have used fear mongering, scare tactics and allowed the media to sensationalise and blow everything out to further scare and intimidate the general population to fall in line and do as we are told, foregoing our freedoms and liberties and live in a communist like environment. 

It is an absolute disgrace. How can such a great country be ruined by such self centred, egotistical imbeciles intent on playing games and political point scoring while they are still taking home their full pay packet and the majority of us are suffering financial, emotional and mental devastation and hardship caused by their inept and backward third world rules and policies.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Very well said. I am in disbelief that politicians in Australia have stooped to almost lower levels of common sense than what I've been following in countries like Thailand and Vietnam, where I thought the pollies have completely lost the plot. Yet they're dealing with far higher daily case numbers than even Melbourne saw last year and if anything have learned a thing or two over the past year (such as not imposing overly draconian lockdowns if possible), while Australian states and territories are moving in the opposite direction. Queensland and the Northern Territory locking down over 2 cases? I mean, it doesn't get more absurd than that!

Of course, I'm not going to give them any undue credit given those governments are unpredictable, since you would kind of expect them to flip flop and mismanage such a situation being the developing countries they are. Meanwhile, one would expect Australia to employ a greater degree of common sense.

Perhaps the airlines could get a bit more creative and cooperate on schedules so there are not as many flying in and out nearly simultaneously, as is happening now. Even as I write this, I can see five aircraft from four different airlines flying practically line abreast heading from the east coast to the USA; three from the middle east and four from asia inbound to the east coast, plus two dedicated freighters.

27 Jun 2020

Total posts 16

Times are dictated by flight times and curfews and date line. 

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Curfews? Haha. Only in Australia does one even talk about that, but incidentally, only one major international airport even imposes one, that being Sydney. Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin do not. Neither does Canberra. While Adelaide does impose a curfew, it's only the 5th busiest international airport in the country and no international flights are served to/from the USA or Europe, only the Pacific, Asia and the Middle East.

Quite easy for international carriers to avoid curfews - just avoid Sydney. On the other hand, with so few flights being operated at the moment, curfews are much less of an issue than during normal times. Sydney seemed to handle things OK in 2019 with a flight operations curfew in place and eventually there will be the new western Sydney airport due to open in 2026.


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