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Qantas escalates border campaign by writing to MPs

written by Adam Thorn | September 10, 2020
Cobham operates 20 Boeing 717s for Qantas. (Seth Jaworski)
Cobham operates 20 Boeing 717s for Qantas. (Seth Jaworski)

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.

The news comes after both chief executive Alan Joyce and Mark Sedgwick, president of AIPA, the pilots’ union, called for a national consensus on shutting borders.

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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.

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“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?

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7 Comments

  • Martin I Clementson

    says:

    Be better for Qantas to give refunds for the flights it cancelled several months ago.

  • PB

    says:

    Joyce has lost his credibility as a leader of Australia’s major airline, especially when it comes to begging for favours.
    He should go, along with his Chairman, and have fresh, competent management take over.

  • Dave Walden

    says:

    I hope that Tasmania is included for once such as a direct flight from Tas to WA and to other major cities that are Covid free

  • Ben

    says:

    Amazing how the Qantas Group along with News Corp seem to forget about the two Liberal states that also have border restrictions. Apparently there is only impact if you have a Labour Premier.

  • Edward

    says:

    To Martin I Clementson atop……

    By your comment, you’ve NO idea the process involved in issuing an Airline Ticket Refund.

    It’s way too long, & complicated to spell out here, the multiple processes’ involved, plus you wouldn’t understand it anyway.

    Under NORMAL circumstances, it would take 6-10 weeks’. The current situation of Pandemic is NOT normal .
    There will be hundreds’ of thousands’, like yours, to process. One just doesn’t hit a button, & it’s all done.
    Be patient, & the staff actioning Refunds will get to yours’ eventually, but it may take several months’ during this horrific time.

  • Gerard

    says:

    A comment for Edward, who replied to Martin. I’m now an ex-airline employee (33 years), having taken early retirement, so I think I understand a bit of both sides. Edward, you say that these are not normal times – I’m with you on that. However, they are not normal times for either airlines or passengers. The passengers have, in good faith, paid for a service which was not delivered. The airlines are struggling; but – be fair – they do have a surplus of staff who could be trained to do the refunds. The complexity of the process reflects on the airlines for having designed such a process – it shouldn’t be the passengers’ problem. Many passengers will be in the position of now needing the money they paid out for tickets.

  • Edward

    says:

    To Gerard above…..

    Two errors in your comments…..

    Firstly, the process of Intnl airline ticket refunds is laid out in rules & regulations set by IATA, NOT individual airlines. QANTAS is a member of IATA, therefore its’ governance in this matter prevails.

    Secondly, anyone actioning Intnl airline ticket refunds MUST have certification in IATA Fares & Ticketing 2. This is a 3 months’ long intensive learning course, with a Pass requirement of 85%.

    It costs Airlines multi-ten of thousands’ $ PER PERSON, to attend a course. It takes the airline approx TWO years’ to recoup the training cost PER PERSON, as staff are not at their usual job, gaining revenue for the airline.
    So ‘a surplus of staff trained to do the refunds’ is non-existent, & where is QANTAS currently going to get the funds to train a couple of thousand staff? You can’t just pluck a baggage handler, or a person from Catering, in to do this course, because it’s ultra-difficult. Much background knowledge is required even BEFORE attending said course. Not every employee has this, & not every employee to asked to attend the course.

    The trained staff will already be working on Refunds, as quickly as humanly possible, but it takes time, especially if other airlines feature on the ticket. Firstly, QANTAS must get funds from them, & that may take several weeks’. There would be 100’s of 1000’s of tickets to be refund processed, at the moment.

    You say you’re an ex-Airline employee, but by your comments, it’s obvious you NEVER worked in the departments of Reservations, or Ticket Office, or airport Ticket Desk.
    If you had have, you wouldn’t have made these two errors in your comment.

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