Qantas has upped the ante in its campaign to open state borders by writing to state and federal MPs in Queensland and WA to ask them to reject “arbitrary” restrictions.
The airline has also urged all its employees to sign a new petition that argues curtailing movement across states should be “risk-assessed” against an agreed definition of a COVID-19 hotspot.
Andrew Parker, who heads up public affairs for Qantas, signed the letter that has been sent to politicians who represent tourism-dependent areas in states that it argues did not agree to a road map out of “hard border regimes” following a national cabinet meeting on Friday.
In one example sent to Cairns MP Michael Healy, Parker said the closures have had a “devastating impact” on local jobs.
“This year, however, COVID-19 and the associated Queensland border restrictions have contributed to an 82 per cent drop in domestic tourism spend compared to the same period last year, placing profound stress on the industry which was hit first by the pandemic and will likely be the last to recover,” it reads.
“With international borders likely to remain closed for some time, our analysis shows significant pent up demand from customers who wish to visit family and friends or holiday in Queensland. We are confident this demand will be realised as domestic border restrictions lift.
“Now is the time for Australians to visit Australia. Now is the time to give the Australian tourism economy some certainty as to when things will start again.
“Qantas is united with other tourism stakeholders, not only in your electorate but around Australia in calling for a nationally consistent framework that is balanced and proportionate, with defined thresholds informed by medical advice for the safe reopening of internal borders, excluding hotspot areas as determined by health authorities.
“We ask that all states and territories work with the Commonwealth and other states and territories to develop a harmonised approach to border management with agreed timelines to provide greater certainty for businesses and all Australians.
“Arbitrary border restrictions are having a profound economic and social cost to communities, businesses, supply chains and jobs in Queensland.
“I ask that you closely consider these implications for the welfare and economic wellbeing of your community and join the call for a rational, harmonised approach to border management guided by the best medical advice.”
The business has also co-ordinated an online petition that it’s encouraging its employees to sign, which you can view here.
In July, before the second round of border closures and hardenings, Jetstar sold 10,000 $19 tickets in just four hours.
The Qantas Group said then the response highlighted the “huge pent up demand” for air travel.
Joyce became one of the first major figures to call for a national framework to open borders, and to accuse Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of closing her borders purely for political gain.
“Surely these decisions should be based on the facts and the level of cases that we’re seeing around the various states?” said Joyce.
“Otherwise it feels like there are no real base decisions. It’s just there to inform maybe the politics?