Brisbane Airport has warned that foreign airlines may exit the Queensland market in favour of other states, in response to the Queensland government’s roadmap out of border closures.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Monday that both the state’s domestic and international borders will reopen by Christmas – pending Queensland’s vaccination rates.
However, non-citizens and residents will not be welcomed directly into Queensland until the state reaches 90 per cent vaccination in its greater population (all people over 12 years old).
“We are concerned that this threshold is significantly higher than the National Cabinet’s roadmap and other states’ roadmaps,” Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) said in a statement, claiming that this could ultimately see foreign airline exit Queensland, and dramatically impact the state’s recovery.
According to BAC, Victoria is likely to follow NSW in its decision to drop all quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated overseas arrivals once the 80 per cent vaccination target is reached.
“If a fully vaccinated traveller from Melbourne can come to Queensland and not be required to quarantine once we have reached the 80 per cent vaccinated population milestone, a fully vaccinated person from Los Angeles should also be able to come to Queensland and not be required to quarantine,” the airport said.
“BAC is deeply concerned that this will see international airlines exit the Queensland market for interstate destinations where they can operate without the profit-killing impost of passenger caps.”
“It would be an absolute tragedy, as it would take several years and significant investment to try and recover these airlines and services,” the airport added.
“This simply means Queensland will be uncompetitive from an aviation perspective and will kill demand for visitation.”
BAC also raised some questions about Queensland’s easing domestic borders, which specify that once the Sunshine State reaches its 80 per cent vaccination target, travellers will be able to come into Queensland from a COVID-19 hotspot, such as NSW or Victoria, without needing to quarantine.
“Clarification is needed on the determination of a domestic ‘hotspot’ once a community meets 80 per cent vaccination rates,” BAC said.
“It is widely accepted that COVID-19 case numbers will not decline to zero, so hotspot definitions cannot be based on case numbers for much longer.
“This clarity is essential if we are to understand how and when vaccinated interstate travellers will be able to return to Queensland without having to quarantine.”
The Queensland government has specified that travellers coming into Queensland from a hotspot will still need to perform a PCR COVID-19 test before arrival, which the airport noted will be an “additional cost” for tourists.
“[This] will significantly dampen demand as has been demonstrated in overseas markets that have already opened up.”
Palaszczuk’s announcement on Monday will see the gradual easing of the Sunshine State’s hard border that it has kept with both Victoria and NSW since the beginning of the east coast’s Delta strain outbreak, for the first time in nearly four months.
Revealing her state’s roadmap out of ongoing border closures on Monday, Palaszczuk announced that Queensland’s tough border restrictions will begin to be eased once the state reaches its 70 per cent double vaccination rate, which is expected by 19 November.
At 70 per cent, fully vaccinated travellers will be allowed to enter Queensland from COVID-19 hotspots, including Sydney and Melbourne, by air only. They will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel and enter mandatory 14 days home quarantine.
Restrictions will be eased further once the state reaches its 80 per cent double vaccination target, which is expected to be reached by 17 December and will eliminate the need to undergo quarantine.
From that date, fully vaccinated travellers from interstate hotspots can travel into Queensland by air or road without entering hotel or home quarantine, however, must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel.
Meanwhile, from 17 December, double-jabbed Australian citizens and residents will once again be welcomed into Queensland from overseas, however will be required to quarantine at home. International travellers will also be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel.