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Jetstar takes a gamble on eased border restrictions with $22 sale

written by Hannah Dowling | September 28, 2021
A Jetstar 787-8, VH-VKF, departing from Sydney and as shot by Victor Pody
A Jetstar 787-8, VH-VKF, departing from Sydney and as shot by Victor Pody

Jetstar has launched a major sale banking on the imminent return of normal domestic operations, including the re-opening of Queensland and Western Australia’s controversial borders.

It comes as speculation continues that Queensland will keep its border shut tight to NSW and Victoria until after Christmas, while Western Australia touts a reopening in April 2022.

From midday on Tuesday, Jetstar will offer 500,000 discounted tickets across its entire domestic network, including 22,000 seats on offer from just $22.

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Many of these ultra-low fares rely on the easing of current border restrictions with NSW and Victoria, including flights between Melbourne and Cairns, Brisbane and Newcastle, and Sydney and Uluru.

Notably, while parent company Qantas has opted to abandon flights between Perth and the eastern states until April 2022 due to Western Australia’s ongoing hard border with NSW, Victoria and Queensland, Jetstar’s sale offerings also include flights between Perth and Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

According to Jetstar, available travel periods under the sale include October to December 2021, mid-January to mid-April 2022, and late April to late June 2022.

It comes just one day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out against the state premiers threatening to keep their borders shut to NSW and Victoria over Christmas, despite the national reopening plan.

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The Prime Minister stated he “can’t see any reason” why Australians should be unable to cross state borders over Christmas, once 80 per cent of the country’s adult population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as was outlined by national cabinet’s reopening plan.

Both the Queensland and WA governments have repeatedly stated that they are willing to keep their borders shut to the currently locked-down states of NSW and Victoria, even if vaccination rates across the country hit 80 per cent.

“There comes a time when you’ve got to honour the arrangement you’ve made with the Australian people, and that is when you get to 80 per cent vaccination, it’s very clear that you can start opening up,” PM Morrison said, speaking from the US on Weekend Sunrise on Sunday.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk has refused to commit to reopening her states’ borders with NSW and Victoria ahead of Christmas, even if national vaccination rates reach 80 per cent.

Instead, the Queensland premier has said she will look to new modelling from the Doherty Institute to decide when she will lift state border restrictions.

“The Doherty modelling has not been released publicly … but 80 per cent will mean different things to different states,” she said last week.

Meanwhile, WA Premier Mark McGowan has been a little more explicit with his intentions not to re-open to NSW or Victoria until next year at the earliest.

Premier McGowan has instead suggested that he will set the date for a border opening “a couple of months” after WA has reached vaccine targets “between 80 and 90 per cent” of the whole population, as opposed to just adults.

“I’m not going to deliberately allow COVID to come in before such a time that we have very high levels of vaccines,” Premier McGowan said last week.

“I know some people in the eastern states are sort of demanding we do that, I don’t really get that.

“We’ll bring down the border at some point in time with NSW and Victoria, but I’m not going to set an artificial deadline of Christmas.”

WA this week increased border restrictions to Victoria, upgrading the state to an “extreme risk” category under its interstate border controls, as the state’s five-day rolling average for new daily cases now exceeds 500.

Under the ‘extreme risk’ category, very few arrivals would be offered exemptions, and those that are will be required to be vaccinated, present a negative COVID-19 PCR test before travel, and then enter into 14-day hotel quarantine.

Additional COVID-19 tests must be taken on day one, five and 12 of quarantine.

It comes one month after WA imposed these unprecedented border restrictions on NSW. WA also continues to impose quarantine requirements on incoming travellers from Queensland.

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