Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin have cancelled 48 flights from Sydney Airport today as the result of sudden border closures at the weekend.
Qantas said it saw a surge of bookings on Sunday as passengers scrambled to get home and beat restrictions, but that has been followed by a similar increase in customers moving their flights from the next week
Every state and territory has now banned passengers from Sydney following the Avalon COVID cluster on the Northern Beaches, which on Sunday added an extra 30 cases.
See a full list of cancellations here.
On Sunday night, Qantas said in a statement, “Following changes to travel restrictions announced by the Victorian government, Qantas and Jetstar saw a surge in bookings for flights between Sydney and Melbourne on Sunday. Other routes including Sydney-Brisbane and Sydney-Adelaide are also nearly at full capacity.
“Both airlines have seen large numbers of customers cancelling their bookings between Sydney and Melbourne and a number of other routes from Monday onwards. A number of flights will be cancelled as a result. We’ll be contacting customers directly impacted by any flight changes.
“We are seeing a high level of inquiry from customers travelling to and from Sydney looking to change their travel plans, so we’d ask anyone not travelling in the next 48 hours to please avoid calling our contact centre to help us manage these volumes.”
Neither Virgin or Qantas are offering refunds, however they are allowing unlimited and free changes.
The scramble to get home has led to huge confusion among passengers, with complicated and varying rules.
SA police commissioner even had to apologise for a communication breakdown that saw passengers from Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast to go into quarantine despite beating the closure deadline.
The escalating situation is a huge blow for domestic aviation, which was on the brink of a Christmas renaissance.
Late last month, Australian Aviation reported how Virgin Australia recorded its largest day of sales since COVID, shortly after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her state would open to Sydney.
The business added that more than 60 per cent of flights booked were for travel in the lead up to and during Christmas, with searches for routes between NSW and Queensland doubling.