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Budget hints borders won’t open until mid-2022

written by Adam Thorn | May 11, 2021
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNJ lands in Sydney after flying nonstop from London. (Qantas)
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNJ lands in Sydney after flying nonstop from London. (Qantas)

The budget has hinted international borders won’t fully reopen until the middle of 2022 – significantly later than Sunday’s estimate of simply “2022”.

The budget papers read, “Inbound and outbound international travel is expected to remain low through to mid-2022, after which gradual recovery in international tourism is assumed to occur.”

It comes as it was revealed on Sunday that Australia would move its official estimate as to when its international borders will reopen from later this year to 2022. Previously, it was penned in for later this year.

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Elsewhere, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s address contained no new major announcements for aviation but revealed domestic routes have already returned to 70 per cent of pre-COVID levels.

The budget document released on Tuesday evening read, “In this budget, the government is providing additional support to keep planes in the air and to preserve an international airline capability. This builds on the $2.7 billion of support provided during the height of the crisis.

“The government is extending the successful Domestic Aviation Network Support and Regional Airline Network Support Programs until 30 September 2021.

“Already the number of weekly flights on major domestic routes have returned to around 70 per cent of pre‑COVID levels and are expected to fully recover by the end of the year.

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“The government is also extending the partial Airservices Australia fee waiver and reinstating the domestic aviation security charge rebate, keeping operators’ costs low as the sector continues to recover.

“A new $200 million International Aviation Support payment will preserve an Australian international airline workforce and operational capability. This will protect up to 8,000 jobs and enable international flights to resume when borders reopen.

“The government is also ensuring businesses in regional Australia remain connected to key international markets by extending the International Freight Assistance Mechanism.

“So far this support has helped Australian businesses export nearly half a million tonnes of agriculture and seafood products valued at more than $6.6 billion.”

Treasurer Frydenberg’s revelation on Tuesday evening will likely force Qantas to push back its plan to restart long-haul flights on 31 October.

The flag carrier’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, said last month the airline would move its plans if the previous date, announced in last year’s budget, slipped.

“We have an assumption based on the borders opening. It’s in 2022,” the Tresurer said on Sunday. “We’ve got to follow the health advice, and the Prime Minister has repeatedly made that point, we don’t move ahead of the health advice.

“We’ve got to ensure that our community stays safe and when we suppress the virus as we’ve successfully done, our economy recovers, and recover strongly.”

The news comes amid increasing worries over delays to Australia’s inoculation program, caused by a shift in policy to prioritise administering the Pfizer vaccine to under 50s rather than the Oxford vaccine that the country has in far greater supply. The British-created jab has been linked to blood clots in a very small number of recipients.

A vaccine delay is significant to Qantas specifically because Joyce has repeatedly insisted his airline’s policy is that long-haul international travellers must be vaccinated.

Australia is also battling apathy problems with the vaccine program, with NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro suggesting people were unwilling to risk getting a jab because life has resumed without restrictions in many areas.

He urged residents to “do your bit” and said Australia needs to jab 70 per cent of the population for the virus to be kept under control.

“The reality is, and I have heard it myself, [people say] there is no virus so why bother or why take the chance?” Deputy Premier Barilaro said.

It follows NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard stating there was a “70 to 80 per cent” drop in health workers turning up for appointments since links were made between the jab and blood clots.

Qantas’ Joyce has repeatedly said he won’t let unvaccinated customers on his international flights because he has a “duty of care to our people and passengers”.

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5 Comments

  • Nicholas

    says:

    A month ago I would have been complaining and saying to the government that you’re mad, now….

    Not only prudent but necessary, we need to remember that large swatches of the globe still hasn’t been hit yet, Africa for example….

  • CJ

    says:

    really ? Politicians change their minds like I change my underwear.

    Still think Qantas end of Oct 2021 will be it for most countries.

  • Doug4500

    says:

    We need a Govt that actually takes positive measures to determine why we got the pandemic in the first place and who was responsible, and who are the vested interests in promoting, beyond all and any former mandates required for previous far more virulent contagions, the use of a hastily-contrived and untested gene therapy. Understanding this and the forces at play will tell you why things will never be set in concrete and planning for the future will be impossible.

    I know they tried, early on, to get an inquiry into the CV-19 release, but CCP angry rebuttals and rejection of the need for any inquiry caused them to pull their heads in, only committing months later to a white-wash investigation by assorted international so-called “experts” during which they barely got a decent look in, especially with being quarantined themselves for two weeks.

    Added to which, the entire farce was overseen by the WHO, the only authority that the CCP would allow as “supervisor”, rather akin to the the fox being put in charge of the henhouse. Tedros was never going to rock the CCP boat, seeing his home county, Ethiopia, has a $3.7B “infrastructure” deal with the CCP for constructing a railway system to Somalia and Djibouti, the latter being the location of the CCP’s first international naval base, to be in the Red Sea, giving them their long-sought access to the Med.

    Put it another way: For anyone who thinks CV-19 actually occurred by mere coincidence, just in time for the US2020 election year, then I have a great bridge over Sydney Harbour to sell you.

    If you want the world to go back to the “old normal”, start being an activist in discovering what and who is really behind all this constantly-reinvigorated pandemic fear-mongering that has crippled aviation and parked up countless planes in the deserts.

  • AVIJOY

    says:

    Canberra is again busily spoonfeeding the Nation:
    the Pfizer vaccine “MAY” arrive late(r) this year, more realistically sometimes 2022
    vaccinate 70 % of the Population – realistically by 2023
    international borders likely start reopening 2024, maybe…..
    anything else is nonsense
    remember:
    politics is the art of deception

  • AVIJOY

    says:

    amazing, just amazing
    a wee bit very slow we are in Canberra, aren’t we ?
    finally MODERNA is being recognised as “also suitable for us down-unders”
    not cheap, but the best and very effective, is not known to kill (blood clots)
    aahhh but don’t get over excited – we still first need the TGA’s approval……..take your time TGA…….
    Moderna though has alreday been approved and extensively administered in the USA, the European Union etc
    but our TGA of course needs to show that —– what ?
    ditch that rubbish and killer Astra Zeneca, aim for Moderna and Pfizer
    Moderna even offer local production – Canberra your turn…..
    prediction (my opinion) it will still be 2023/ 2024 before say 70% of the population has received the two Jabs
    so borders open when ?????

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