The Australian Airports Association has said international airports are now “working closely” with the government to facilitate the return of commercial international travel in November.
It comes despite the industry body’s chief executive, James Goodwin, telling Australian Aviation last month that his members were in the dark on the procedures for welcoming passengers back.
The news follows Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing on Friday that fully vaccinated citizens and residents will soon be able to leave the country freely and return without hotel quarantine when restrictions ease.
In a new statement, Goodwin called the development a “positive step in the right direction” but warned there must be a focus on the latter stages of the reopening, too.
“These changes provide a more effective and clearer pathway for Australians to have the confidence to leave and re-enter the country,” Goodwin said.
“Airports will be critical to ensuring the challenging logistics associated with resuming international travel will be successfully managed.”
“It is important airports are involved in co-designing any new arrangements required as we begin this process and look forward to working closely with government agencies on these details.”
“This is just the first step to reopen Australia with work needed now on the next phase of the framework where we can welcome back international tourists and other important cohorts such as businesspeople, students and skilled workers.”
“There needs to be a focus on bringing back international travellers to assist in returning our economy, particularly the tourism sector, back to its full strength.
“We welcome the development of safe travel zones where quarantine will not be required with nations such as New Zealand and we look forward to having other highly-vaccinated nations included as part of these pilot programs.”
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The association also specifically stated that Australia’s international airports are now “working closely with government to ensure the reopening framework announced today is carried out as smoothly and safely as possible”.
The comments appear to mark a shift in position after Goodwin said last month airports weren’t aware of what the procedures would be for passengers coming in from overseas.
“There are long lead times in aviation, so six or 12 months is not actually a long time in our world,” he said. “So a lot of this planning could have and should have been done a long time ago.”
It followed similar warnings from the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) and Brisbane Airport.
The new international travel rules mean that double-jabbed citizens and permanent residents will be able to leave the country freely and return without hotel quarantine next month.
Those new requirements, which will kick in once states hit 80 per cent double-dose inoculation, will see those arriving back in the country being asked to stay at home for seven days.
The government also said it would announce a number of restriction-free travel bubbles in the coming weeks, which will see the country able to welcome tourists for the first time in 18 months.
“It’s time to give Australians their lives back,” said Prime Minister Morrison. “Let’s get vaccinated and get on with it.”
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