Qantas hands Queensland ultimatum on new route

written by Adam Thorn | September 10, 2020
A QantasLink De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 at Port Macquarie Airport
A QantasLink De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 at Port Macquarie Airport

Qantas has announced it will launch a new Brisbane-Port Macquarie service to boost local tourism – but only when Queensland reveals a date for dropping its hard border with NSW.

The airline pointedly handed the state an effective ultimatum hours after it upped the ante in its campaign to open domestic borders by writing to politicians in Queensland and WA urging them to reject “arbitrary” movement restrictions.

The new Q400 turboprop service will fly up to five times a week and comes after Virgin Australia withdrew its direct service.

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QantasLink chief executive John Gissing said the route would drive tourism and help the industry get “back on its feet”.

“We also know how important air travel is for regional communities, for residents and business travellers,” said Gissing. “We’re pleased to be able to support customers with ongoing connectivity where there is demand.”

Hours before announcing the new service, the business 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.

It came alongside Qantas sending targeted letters to MPs in states it said did not agree to a road map out of “hard border regimes” during the last national cabinet meeting.

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One passage of the correspondence read, “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.”

While the state of Queensland opened up to NSW on 10 July, it quickly shut back down to Sydney at the end of the month and then to all of the state just a week later.

“We know there is significant pent up demand for domestic travel with Australians wanting to explore their own backyard,” added Gissing. “We expect the new flights to Port Macquarie will be popular with Queensland travellers looking to visit the beautiful coastal town so we hope an easing of travel restrictions will make this possible.

“These extra flights are also another step towards our recovery and getting more of our people back to work.”

Earlier this week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she begrudged Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision to shut her borders to the state, in the latest barb in their pair’s bitter row.

Speaking on the Today program, Premier Berejiklian said, “I don’t know if it’s because we’re NSW and maybe we have a different world view of our nation, but with Victoria out of action you have to think about what is going to power our economy forward?”

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6 Comments

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    I am not certain that giving Govts. any ultimatums is a smart move but in the current climate with the Qld. Govt. I don’t think they would either understand them or care about them anyway. Like many many others, I have to have permission from the Qld. Govt to cross the road to go to the newsagent yet they are free to direct our lives. Nonsense.

  • Steve A

    says:

    Sad when Qantas is in such desperate and dire straits that it moves from publicly bullying its staff to publicly bullying politicians. Like Qantas, I wrote to every Federal MP and Senator, but to urge them to renationalise Qantas as it had been hijacked by management that thought more about maximizing management bonuses rather than looking after shareholders, customers, staff, or the Australian economy, Australian jobs, and Australian tourism. I also wrote to every Queensland MP, urging them to purchase VA from the Aministrator, or the cheaper option of just setting up a State-owned airline to meet its needs.
    Qantas is just a hollowed out shell of its former self now, after suffering systematic asset-stripping and asset-ageing.
    For the second time under his leadership, AJ has just about run QF into the ground. Now people will say that COVID-19 is not his fault, and yes, of course it isn’t. But the very few times during his tenure that QF has made a profit, QF management have squandered it on buying back shares – more than $3 billion worth of them.
    And if QF was forced to stop living off customers’ advance booking payments, then it would probably close up shop.
    No other industries are allowed to use customers’ money held in trust for services to be provided in the future, so why is QF allowed to do this?
    In my 2016 proposal to PM Malcolm Turnbull to set up a Federally owned airline, I warned him of the consequences of allowing Australian tourism to amble along aimlessly in the hands of QF and VA, and also of the consequential loss of regional connectivity and tourism because of VA’s decision to sell its E190s and ATRs.
    When will someone actually listen to me?

  • kfhj

    says:

    “We expect the new flights to Port Macquarie will be popular with Queensland travelers looking to visit the beautiful coastal town”

    Is Gissing familiar with QLD? It has superior coastal towns, reefs, islands and tropical resorts galore. Why would QLDers wanting a coastal retreat go holiday in Port Macquarie during a pandemic?

  • Douglas

    says:

    Rod, I don’t know where you live in Queensland, but I am free to go wherever I want in this State. We don’t have any restrictions at all to travel in Queensland.

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    Hi Douglas, I reside in NSW just across the road from Cooly in QLD and I have to say that the border control implementation rules don’t reflect positively upon the QLD Govt. I feel for the poor personnel having to enforce the rules and the thousands of other residents in the region severely inconvenienced by such behaviours. Now since about 1/3rd of the runway at OOL is in NSW I am amazed that some beaurocrat hasn’t ordered those red and white barriers to be positioned across it. Maybe that is a works in progress, you wouldn’t know. Cheers.

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    Hi Steve A, I share the vast majority of your views and I too am very saddened by the events evolving within the industry. As you may be aware, almost all letters sent to M.P s are never seen, read or actioned by the member it was addressed to, some minder or similar would have rcvd it and allocated reply #45 etc. I have a feeling that with VOZs walking away from a lot of regional traffic the Minister, a Nat. Will have some interesting and sleepless nights ahead. We can but only feed them the rope, They will do the rest. Cheers
    .

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