The second of Qantas’ new batch of London repatriation flights landed in Darwin yesterday.
The Boeing 787-9, VH-ZNK msn 66075, left Heathrow on 7 November as flight QF110 at 11:48am and landed the next day at 1:03pm with no stops.
It comes shortly after the government also announced plans to introduce international hotel quarantine in Tasmania so the state can start accepting Australians stranded abroad.
The government supplemented London-Darwin flight was made possible after the federal government increased the capacity of the NT’s quarantine facility.
The use of the Howard Springs facility essentially adds another 250 spaces per week onto the nation’s controversial arrival caps, which stand at slightly over 6,000.
Critics have argued the arrival caps have hindered Australians ability to return home by reducing availability and increasing prices. Restrictions were first introduced in July to regulate the flow of people arriving into government quarantine facilities and have been extended multiple times.
The industry body representing international airlines previously estimated that more than 100,000 Australians are stranded abroad looking to return home, with 30,000 alone in London.
The flight carried around 170 passengers, all of whom had to pay $2,000 for a ticket alongside a $2,500 charge for the time spent in isolation.
The first flight from the UK was a Boeing 787-9, VH-ZND msn 63390, that left Heathrow as flight QF110 at 11:54am on Thursday, 22 October and laded in Darwin at 11:53 am the next day, with no stops.
A third flight is set to depart on 11 November.
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On Monday, Australian Aviation also reported that Hobart would provide an extra 450 spaces in hotel quarantine. Previously, the state wasn’t accepting international arrivals.
“We’re working every option to help as many Australians return home as quickly as possible,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
The country is currently taken around 6,300 arrivals per week after lifting the cap from an initial 4,000.
Last month, the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) also urged NSW to allocate domestic quarantine hotel rooms to overseas arrivals when the NSW-Victoria border reopens to allow more stranded Australians to return home.
“BARA understands that at present, each week some 1,600 people undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine when they enter New South Wales from Victoria,” said BARA in a statement. “If, when the requirements on arrivals from Victoria are eased, this domestic quarantine capacity were allocated to international flights, it would make a big difference.
“Expanding the New Zealand Safe Travel Zone into all Australian states and territories and a regulatory framework that permits the commercial provision of quarantine services would also benefit Australians stranded overseas.
“Some 20 flights from NZ have been arriving in Brisbane each month carrying about 500 passengers who go into quarantine. That number could now go to Australians stranded in other overseas countries if the New Zealand Safe Travel Zone was expanded to Queensland.”
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