The chief executive of the business that owns Gold Coast Airport has argued a “lack of clarity” on border closures is stopping passengers booking flights.
Queensland Airports’ Chris Mills also said the decision to shut off the state from NSW and the ACT led to an immediate reduction in flight schedules.
“We understand the health concerns with community transmission in Victoria, and support the strong stance there,” said Mills. “But we were surprised about the ACT decision – it has been almost a month since a COVID-19 case was detected in the ACT.”
The decision meant that, from 1am on Saturday, 8 August, only Queensland residents who have travelled through these ‘hotspot’ areas will be allowed to return home, and those that do will have to quarantine at a government facility for 14 days.
Everyone else, excluding essential workers, will be turned away.
The closures appear to have hurt what was a small recovery for Gold Coast Airport – in July, passengers numbers leapt to 44,000 from just 5,390 in June, when restrictions were previously in place.
“The negative impact to flight schedules was immediate,” Mills told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“Apart from the direct impact on flight numbers and travel schedules, we are concerned that confidence in future travel planning is being affected by the lack of clarity on when borders are opened and shut.”
On Monday, Australian Aviation reported that Byron Bay has similarly benefited from Queensland’s restrictions, making it now one of the sunniest beach resorts available for passengers to fly from.
FlyPelican even extended its return flights between Canberra Airport and Byron Bay for a further eight weeks. The three-times a week service only launched for the first time on Friday, 3 July, but will now operate until at least 23 October.
At one point, it is thought to be welcoming almost as many flights as before the pandemic began, with regular services also operated by Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar.