Sydney Airport has introduced a strict limit on the number of passengers arriving on international flights, as the NSW government fears a blowout in the costs of mandatory 14-day hotel isolation after Melbourne Airport cancelled all inbound passenger flights until July 15 to help combat a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases.
That move forced many airlines to shift passengers originally booked on Melbourne-bound services onto flights to Sydney, which as Australia's busiest international airport was already putting the state's funding under strain.
The NSW government has spent more than $50 million on the hotel quarantine scheme to date, with premier Gladys Berejiklian pointing out that her state had already carried most of the load to date.
“It’s reasonable to say to other states, who’ve been able to live in their bubbles because we’ve borne the burden of these overseas travellers, ‘Please share in that burden'", the premier said.
"It is crucial that the volume of returning passengers not overrun the capacity of NSW Health to meet and assess every international passenger at Sydney Airport and not exhaust Health, Police and [Australian Defence Force] resources to manage our quarantine hotels," added NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.
As a result, from Saturday 4 July 2020, the NSW government will impose a strict cap of 50 people per incoming international flight at Sydney Airport and a total cap of 450 arrivals per day.
"Following the decision to suspend international flight arrivals into Melbourne for 2 weeks, there’s now pressure on Sydney’s quarantine facilities," explained The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which operates the smartraveller.gov.au service. "This measure aims to support Melbourne reset its quarantine program and reduce pressure on policing, health and quarantine facilities in Sydney."
The Australian High Commission in the United Kingdom has warned via social media that it anticipates "disruption to international flights into Sydney. This will mean some flights may no longer be viable and therefore will not operate."
While Qantas and Virgin Australia have suspended all international services, Sydney Airport continues to host flights from over a dozen airlines including Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, ANA, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, United Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.
Sydney Airport's capacity limit will remain in place until Melbourne begins accepting overseas passenger flights once again. Travellers booked on international flights due to arrive in Sydney up to and including July 14 are advised to check with their airline to determine if they flight will be going ahead.