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Airlines pounce on easing domestic borders

written by Hannah Dowling | September 22, 2021
Image by Seth Jaworski

Australia’s airlines have launched a number of major sales ahead of the planned easing of travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers later this year.

Qantas and Jetstar are now offering low-cost flights between NSW and Victoria, as border restrictions between the two populous states are expected to finally ease for the first time in nearly three months in November.

Meanwhile, rival Virgin Australia continues to focus on Australia’s non-locked down states, and has introduced new routes connecting tourist haven Hobart to both Adelaide and Perth. Just last month, Virgin also introduced new routes between Adelaide and Launceston.

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Virgin has welcomed its new Hobart routes by offering one-way fares on offer from just $49.

The sales come as Australians look ahead towards the inevitable easing of state border restrictions, with current modelling suggesting that the nation could fully re-open by Christmas.

Earlier this week, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced that fully vaccinated Victorians would be free to travel domestically once the state’s vaccination rate hits 80 per cent. Current estimates suggest this target will be hit on 5 November.

Meanwhile, the federal government’s national re-opening plan specifies the end of lockdowns and state border closures once 80 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated – which is expected to occur on 11 November.

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Queensland and Western Australia remain wildcards in Australia’s planned national reopening, despite both agreeing to terms with national cabinet.

Setting out his own roadmap out of restrictions, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has said that the state’s ‘hard border’ with much of the country will remain up until 80 per cent of all citizens (including those aged 12-18) are fully vaccinated against COVID. This could see WA’s border remain closed to the rest of the country until March 2022.

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has continued to suggest she will “listen to the modelling”, however rumours have surfaced that Queensland may wait until 90 per cent of its adult population is vaccinated before re-opening.

Tasmania’s director of public health, Mark Veitch, has similarly said that the “closer to 90 per cent … the better”, in relation to its opening of state borders, while Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has said the NT would likely introduce green, orange and red zone quarantine categories for interstate arrivals, which could vary depending on vaccination status.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has said his state will follow the federal plan as outlined by national cabinet, which would likely see borders reopen before Christmas.

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