Sydney Airport limits inbound passengers to 50 per flight, 450 per day

An overflow of travellers on flights originally bound for Melbourne is straining Sydney's quarantine facilities.

By David Flynn, July 3 2020
Sydney Airport limits inbound passengers to 50 per flight, 450 per day

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.

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.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 532

Good idea to block the Vic move, everyone has had enough time to come home and the amount of people I know who didn't return to Australia when told to come home and are still oversea. On top of that travelling interstate on Thursday I was amazed at the amount of oversea tourists in domestic terminals.

23 May 2020

Total posts 6

A lot of people are not tourists- do you really think people have been hanging out at a beach partying for the last few months anywhere in the world? These are families needing to be reunited, spouses who haven't seen each other for months, people who have begging and PLEADING for exemptions to be allowed in. These are people needing to access travel for essential work, for study, for medical care.... our family is separated during this crisis and I swear I will lose it next time someone suggests we are not together because of a ‘choice'. We are stuck as many others have been. I know some of the stories of those people coming home finally - it's been a really frightening desperate time for many.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 532

I feel for people in this position and I know one lady who was refused an exist visa to see her grandmother before she past away in France. But if you genuinely need to travel leave the golf clubs at home.

26 Aug 2020

Total posts 2

I had to prove so many things to see my mum pass away, just to get out, I didn't want to leave my son and wife. I had to choose, but I had the extenuating circumstances required to leave, surely they are the same circumstances allow me to return? 

06 Jul 2020

Total posts 3

The people you say who 'ignored' the memo from the Australian Government to come home were limited by a few factors:

- Flights were cancelled and most were given a return ticket to use at a later date within 700+ days (mine has only become available as of 1st of July via Emirates to fly to places like Brisbane).

- If people decided to instead get a refund instead of a return ticket they were forced to pay excessively high fares through another airline without even having a high chance of that flight actually flying out, most flights were cancelled a few days before check-in due to border closures involved with connection flights (Dubai and London for example).

- Even when some flights resumed around the world they have only been operating at maybe half capacity, when you eliminate competition in aviation, ticket prices remain high priced and supply is limited.

Having 'enough time' to come home doesn't mean anything when you aren't even presented the opportunity to get home 'in time' in the first place.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 151

Another step in the government implementing an unnecessary island prison in Australia that will continue to destroy the economy.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1120

KW72 it is worth checking, but most countries in the world have 14day quarantine ranging from Canada to Cambodia. Even the US to the UK,, not sure what your point is. Hospitalisations on the scale of much of the US will kill an economy as much as a closed border.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

This is turning into a logistical nightmare, and for those who pontificate about ‘plenty of time to get home' it's not always as simple as it may seem from your Jason recliner!

Try untangling your life, your families life, kids schooling, employment, possessions etc, etc at very little notice and with rapidly changing rules and see how you would make out.

Not to mention returning to somewhere where you have no home, no employment, tenuous roots after having been away for some time, for many in excess of ten years.

For some of us, our employer will not even accept a resignation and provide an exit permit from the country until our position is filled.

Lots of ignorant advice from people who have no idea just what others may be going through.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 532

I agree

05 May 2016

Total posts 590

Ouch. Looking to depart Australia from MEL if I get a travel exemption, but will there a flight to depart on? Had thought I may need to depart via Sydney due to the MEL restrictions but if flights to SYD are uneconomic then there may be no way to depart from there either.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

Many of the flights are still coming in to Melbourne but only with cargo and are going out with passengers on apparently.

NZ

13 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

NZ is still operating passenger flights ex-MEL, they arrive as cargo only.

They also still fly passenger flights between AKL-LAX an few times an week.

I understand that Australians are still allowed to transit via AKL (provided they are let out of Australia)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 352

Please....people have indeed had enough time to return home.Its been many months now and it's not that difficult.

Qantas

02 May 2016

Total posts 56

Of course it's not that difficult......you can list a house for sale in 1 day, you can sell it in 1 day, arrange movers and pack a shipping container the next day, Settle the day after, your daughter who is in Year 12 at high school can just be pulled out with 2 months before completion, forget about your job, forget about your pets and just come back because ScoMo says so. Some people have absolutely no idea how difficult and time consuming “returning home” is from a life of many years overseas - and stressful in this current environment. I started my relocation plans back home in February, well before the worst of COVID, but it still takes 6 months at best. I'm fine taking the limited flight options available, I'm fine to do quarantine for 14 days but for people who have probably never lived outside Australia for a day of their life to just say “Oh you've had months to do that”......bloody hell !

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

They just don't get it....

And then you get a days notice that no flights into Melbourne for two weeks, so you need to rearrange that, then Sydney caps arrivals two days later, so your rearranging needs to be rearranged again...

I have colleagues where I am who have up to four sets of tickets they are waiting refunds on, and not just for themselves but their whole family, and are waiting weeks/months for these.

An architect colleague has over $30,000 in tickets waiting for refund, plus all of the very good points above about extracting yourself from your life elsewhere made above.

It's not as simple as packing a weekend bag and walking out the door for a quick trip home.

Qantas

02 May 2016

Total posts 56

Thanks for understanding, I was in Australia January to April, tried to return in April to the US to get my family and lost a $6k ticket with QF as they cancelled flights (now a credit), the agent told me to buy an AA ticket into LAX which I did, another $4k...subsequently canceled and a credit I'm likely to never get back. Ended up having to pay another $2k to United to get back (SYD to SFO). I just paid $12k last week to Air NZ to get us back in August and now this mess. A total of $22k in flights and could get worse yet.....and I'm sure there are many like me.

29 Jul 2019

Total posts 3

You can get a refund for flights that are cancelled, not just credits

P1
P1

24 Apr 2017

Total posts 64

Anyone flying into Sydney who lives in Qld or Victoria should be charged double the rate their own government is charging them for being in Quarantine.

Only NSW resident arrivals should be accommodated for free.

06 Jul 2020

Total posts 3

That's easy to say when your state isn't charging your residents for a compulsory quarantine...

Etihad - Etihad Guest

28 Feb 2019

Total posts 10

Given we have banned foreign nationals without a really good reason from coming to the country most of the people in quarantine must be Australian residents returning to the country.

Australian citizens have the right under international law to return to Australia. We cannot stop them coming into the country and neither should we. We can stop Australian citizebs leaving however.

I understood that the state that the returning citizens belongs to was funding the quarantine no matter which state they arrived in. IE if a Tasmanian arrives into Melbourne, the Tasmanian government ended up footing the bill even though the Victorian government arranges the quarantine. Is this correct?

Really, the Queensland government should offer Cairns, Gold and Sunshine Coast as international gateway for the whole country. There are so many spare hotel rooms up there. The army and local police could manage the security of the quarantine under the advice of Queensland health and then the Larger hotels would have people in quarantine on certain floors and at least cover their current losses. Most of the costs being covered by other states.

Turn a problem into an Oppurtunity.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1120

Shera I am sure a global pandemic is a ‘good reason' to ban foreigners, as most other countries do as well, just like they did during the Spanish flu.. Australian citizens have the ‘right' to arrive but not necessarily on a plane, they can come on their own boats for example. If there is a health reason to regulate it and by the number of Covid postive coming then, then it should be regulated. Personally I would be happy with personal tracking devices but the public may be be les so. And as we have seen in Victoria (and ruby princess) have shown a flaw in the regulation and COVID soon gets away.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

28 Feb 2019

Total posts 10

Patrickk thanks for pointing out my poor grammar. My correction is

Given we have banned foreign nationals from coming to Australia unless they have a good reason most of the people in quarantine must be Australian residents returning to the country.”

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1120

Apologies Shera I read it the other way. Not really poor grammar but the ‘unless' helps.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 403

No, the state in which the quarantine hotel is located is paying. That's precisely why NSW is unhappy, because it's been paying for rooms for people from all the other states. And that's why Queensland is now charging the passenger, because it's paid millions to hotels for accommodating people from the other states.

15 Aug 2018

Total posts 22

We have made a rod for our own back with this "defacto hotel stimulus package" run by State Governments. The technology exists for enforced home quarantine. For "low risk countries" Hong Kong does it with COVID test at the airport on arrival where you wait a few hours until the test is processed, a tracking app, locked wristband and followup checks by Police/Health Dept. to make sure you stay home, another COVID test at home on day 12 couriered to the Health Dept.

Only arrivals from high risk countries - defined as low testing rate countries - have to go to government quarantine.

Leave you home before 14 days and it's off to governement quarantine then an A$5000 fine or six months jail.

Canada does it with a "quarantine plan" that you submit on arrival and follow up home checks.

50 seats per flight means many flights will be cancelled as non viable with all the problems other posters have highlighted with multiple bookings/refunds locked up.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1120

Ted a tracking app stops you leaving but doesn't stop visitors. We tried a ‘home plan' earlier and 15% didn't follow it. 15% is still too many to ‘let loose', as Victoria is showing. This current outbreak came largely flaws in hotel quarantine, can you imwhat would happen with a retro self quarantine (c.f Ruby Princess).

Etihad - Etihad Guest

28 Feb 2019

Total posts 10

Very true Ted. GPS trackers could sort.

Thinking about it is the 50 pax per flight limit from Sydney airport as the article says Or from the NSW Govt which manages quarantine. Why would the airport limit arrivals. They have nothing to do with the quarantine apart from quarrelling people. And where does New South Wales Or Sydney airport get its legal power To limit international aviation? Something is odd particular if the vast bulk of arrivals are Australian citizens.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1120

Shera you will did they get it's legal power through the external powers act which governs a lot of other things such including who can come and who can't In terms of airlines etc. they could come by their own boat and they would be let in subject to 14 days quarantine under various health orders. That would certainly keep it under 50. The airport is required to uphold the law and so If the government says 50 then fifty it is.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

28 Feb 2019

Total posts 10

Indeed the Feds can apply limits on international Aviation but the article says it's the airport and I can't imagine the feds are limiting it as the hotel quarantine is using a state power. Something doesn't add up or the article is perhaps inaccurate and the airport is simply enforcing a federal regulation.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1120

The feds will limit it if asked to by the states just like they give other resources if the states ask: it is a national crisis!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Nov 2013

Total posts 24

I think all our major cities should be taking these flights including Darwin and Canberra to share the load. Shouldn't be limiting the people returning home.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

28 Feb 2019

Total posts 10

In the end it is not the airport limiting it but the federal regulations probably on request of NSW Govt. This from News Ltd “ The new caps, granted by the Federal Government, will limit incoming overseas flights to no more than 50 people per plane, and a maximum of 450 each day. The new caps, granted by the Federal Government, will limit incoming overseas flights to no more than 50 people per plane, and a maximum of 450 each day.”

07 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to ask your advise guys. I got granted an exemption this morning for flight this Thursday so in 48h however I need to change the flight to next week as my daughter has a bit of a cold and it's just better not to travel with coughing child they probably would not let us go anyway.

Do I need to apply again for another one?

Thank you

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

Only 30 passengers will be permitted per flight into Sydney International Airport from Monday (20 July). New cap means only 350 passengers a day will pass through the airport.

05 May 2016

Total posts 590

If they cut any more I guess they'd have to ban all incoming passenger flights completely.

26 Aug 2020

Total posts 2

Honestly I can't tell you how insanely terrifying it is to be kept away from your family against your own will and be completely helpless. 

9 weeks ago I got a flight to the UK left my son and my wife under duress after trying three times to be allowed to leave to go and see my mother who had taken a sudden turn for the worst and was in fear of passing. Subsequently my mother died along with my nan a day later. I had a flight back to sydeny, it was cancelled along with the next 6. I'm now being told I won't get home for another two months potentially. 

I may lose my job, my wife has been left home after being laid off because of covid. I am quite literally stranded and even if I did have 15k for a flight there aren't any left. I am a tax payer with a mortgage with a job with health insurance etc etc etc 

I have now had 6 covid test incase I'm able to fly back, which is now clearly a joke and not happening. 

I have no problem with a country protecting its citizens from COVID but refusing it's residents and citizens to come home to their family's and jobs and be COVID refugees is crazy, we are not being protected. 

Sydney hotels are empty because we haven't let in a single holiday maker or foreigner since March, they are now charging us (fair enough) so why can't we come home and do that, surely that means we are no risk to anyone, money gets pumped back in to the city and people get to be reunited with their families and continue in there jobs and pay their taxes etc

The numbers are so low and if we are all being made to stay in a hotel we pay for, we are not creating any greater risk and with such insanely low numbers of infection the very few that may have it will hardly over run the health system. 

However if we don't come home we potentially lose out jobs, our homes, our marriages our mental health, and none of this is dramatic, I am staring down 4 months of staying in the same room away from my 16 month old son and my wife. 

I spoke to a guy who is literally paying for his life because he has to pay from cancer treatment in the UK as he's not covered along with his rent in Aus. 

Covid isn't going anywhere it will be around for ever we will have to treat it like the flu like other viruses once we have vaccines, we will have to where masks for the next few years we will have to social distance. So how long can we close a country down? shutting down the country to returning citizens with the current numbers and as a 1st world country seems like severe panicking.

One thing I do find incredible is that even when I had to jump through all the hoops to prove my dying mother was my mum, not at any point was I told that although I am being given permission to fly home I should be aware I will join a back log of people trying to re enter, even before the caps were introduced. The airlines said nothing despite knowing that they already had a back log of people trying to return. This may have influenced my decision and people like me. 

I don't blame the government or the airlines, these are unprecedented times, but I state again, that if you have the hotels and you have the airlines and people are willing to pay for their quarantine then making refugees or your own citizens makes no sense at all. The only people that have left since March are people the government let leave, surely we can be let to return. 

I am aware there are people way worse off than me, stuck in India, Thailand, trying to find places to stay. But if the government is aware that this is happening to it's hard working citizens how can it not let us home. Most of us now have to have a covid test before we can even entre an airport so we are probably the safest people. 

Anyway appologies if this is ranty, but this is the first time I've put anything down really, I really feel lost and welcolm anyone else to chat about their situation, of nothing else but to find some comfort in our predicaments. 

Thanks 

28 May 2020

Total posts 2

I understand that the max no. of arrivals at Sydney airport has just increased. But when I make  a booking to fly to Sydney how do I know that I will (or won't be) within the maximum allowed number of arrivals in Sydney on the flight arrival day? Thanks.

Hello @scorecard

I have just flown from Spain to Sydney via London and Singapore.

In my case Singapore Airlines stopped selling tickets once the cap was reached.

 That not an assumption, it's fact as I have colleagues working in SQ.  If you have a ticket, you will get home.  Good Luck and safe travels.

28 May 2020

Total posts 2

Thank you.


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