The CEO of Melbourne Airport said the vaccine rollout needs to “increase significantly” as its July traffic numbers reported an 85.7 per cent drop compared with pre-pandemic levels.
Melbourne Airport welcomed just over 467,000 people in July, almost all of them being domestic travellers due to the recent outbreak prohibiting non-essential travel.
Chief executive Lyell Strambi said passenger numbers boomed in the first two weeks, but dropped when Victoria’s fifth lockdown began.
“The nation’s rolling border closures obliterate air travel and damage confidence, making it almost impossible for people to plan and book interstate trips,” he said. “The pace of the vaccine rollout needs to increase significantly so we can revive our economy and the wider tourism industry.”
The outbreak significantly impacted the Melbourne to Sydney route and the travel bubble pause from New Zealand, which is a key player in Australia’s international tourism.
The move from New Zealand also cut off Australia’s only international quarantine-free connection, added Strambi.
In July, Melbourne began offering a $10,000 travel voucher each month for the rest of the year to a double-jabbed citizen, encouraging vaccinations overall.
To enter, travellers must submit proof of vaccination, alongside a “passionate explanation” about why and where they would like to fly.
They are announced on the airport’s Instagram and Facebook pages, and written submissions of 50 words or less will be accepted in addition to video submissions of 60 seconds or less.
The Victorian government announced last week it would make the AstraZeneca vaccine available to under-50s at all hubs from this Monday, pledging to administer 1 million jabs over the next month.
On Tuesday, Victoria recorded 24 new cases and one from overseas, one of the state’s highest daily numbers during the outbreak.
On Monday, the government extended the state-wide lockdown, including curfews from 9pm to 5pm every day, until 2 September.
According to Flightradar24, over 60 flights have been cancelled to Melbourne Airport within the past 24 hours as the lockdown extends and domestic travel continues to plummet.
The airport reported its lowest financial year passenger traffic in July since 1984.
In total, passenger numbers for FY20-21 were just 6.1 million.
Domestic numbers made up the bulk of passengers – 5,939,368 – but that number alone was a 68.8 per cent decline on FY19-20. International numbers of 230,455 represented a 97.2 per cent drop on the same time last year.
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