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.
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.
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.”
“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?”