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Qantas’ Joyce compares WA to North Korea in border row

written by Adam Thorn | February 4, 2022

Victor Pody shot these two 737-800s, including 16-year-old VH-VYD.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has compared Western Australia to North Korea in his most eviscerating attack yet on the state’s refusal to open its border.

He told Melbourne’s 3AW radio station that Australians should feel “outraged” that many citizens can fly to London but not Perth.

It comes days after the state’s premier, Mark McGowan, refused to give a date as to when he would open up, warning of the potential for future waves of COVID. WA was originally set to drop its hard border restrictions on 5 February, before that decision was reversed.

Speaking on Friday, Joyce said, “There’s not even a plan to open up. It’s going to be closed indefinitely at this stage unless we have a plan to start living with COVID and opening up the whole country.

“We’re supposed to be all Australians and you can’t even travel around your own country.”

He added more broadly he would like to see tourists allowed back into Australia as soon as possible because the current rules were causing “a lot of damage” to the tourism industry.

“There’s talk about maybe pressure on the hospital system here, but when you look at the detail of it, we have higher per capita cases of COVID than a lot of these countries – the UK, the US.” Australia is currently only open to skilled migrants, students and working-holiday backpackers.

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WA’s closure is a double blow for Qantas given Perth is the traditional home of its iconic kangaroo flights to London, which have been redirected to Darwin. The airline was also hoping to launch a new route from Sydney and Melbourne to Rome via Perth in June.

Qantas has had a strained relationship with Perth and WA since the start of the pandemic, repeatedly hinting it could lose its exclusive status long-term as a transit hub for flights to the UK.

Joyce’s North Korea barb represents a significant escalation in his language after he earlier this week simply said he hoped the state would commit to a new reopening plan and give his airline certainty.

As of 4 February, WA has declared all other states in Australia an “extreme risk”, meaning citizens can only travel west if they get an exemption, and even then are required to undertake 14 days of hotel quarantine.

Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported how Australians would have to wait until July to travel to New Zealand and not undertake quarantine. The news means trans-Tasman travel will have been all but stopped for a year.

However, the New Zealand government’s five-step plan means fully vaccinated Kiwis will be free to return from Australia without entering a two-week hotel quarantine.

Instead, returning New Zealanders will be able to complete 10 days of self-isolation at home, allowing travellers to avoid the country’s managed isolation and quarantine services (MIQ), allowing more people to travel back home to Aotearoa and saving them thousands of dollars.

Comments (11)

  • Andrew

    says:

    I don’t usually agree with Alan Joyce but secessionist government in WA and its approach to Covid together with local media collusion on this topic, is nothing short of a disgrace.

  • AgentGerko

    says:

    If WA is like North Korea then Alan Joyce is like Mao Tse Tung for the way he has treated staff, passengers and travel agents with total contempt. At least WA will eventually allow people in and out. Mr Joyce shows no signs of ever treating people decently

  • Bill O Really.

    says:

    Alan Joyce may wear the pants at Qantas and act in his usual “my way or the highway” mode. But, last I looked, McGowan is the democratically elected leader of Western Australia. Time for Alan, so used to getting his own way with his staff, to just remember how it works in Australia. I don’t like what McGowan is doing either, but I would prefer him by a country mile to be running the state than a bumptious, self important, overpaid, underachiever with a Napoleon complex. Know your place Joyce, it is not running the country of just bumbling along with Qantas. Give your ego a good rest, there’s a good chap.

  • chris

    says:

    On this subject, I agree with Alan Joyce. If not now, then when Premier??

  • Bill O Really.

    says:

    Alan Joyce may wear the pants at Qantas and act in his usual “my way or the highway” mode. But, last I looked, McGowan is the democratically elected leader of Western Australia. Time for Alan, so used to getting his own way with his staff, to just remember how it works in Australia. I don’t like what McGowan is doing either, but I would prefer him by a country mile to be running the state than a bumptious, self important, overpaid, underachiever with a Napoleon complex. Know your place Joyce, it is not running the country or just bumbling along with Qantas. Give your ego a good rest, there’s a good chap.

  • Alan

    says:

    McGowan is a complete lunatic and a selfish one at that.
    You will just have to suck it up sandgropers as you voted him in with a huge majority.

  • David

    says:

    Mister Joyce how much is a human life worth?
    The public case you are advocating is that money is more important than human life, as such you want all borders open irrespective of the risk of human life. Have actually even the impact on the pure bred first nations people that do’t have the immune system of European origins? Are they expendable???? Who in big business like you Mister Joyce listens to them?
    To be honest Mister Joyce you and your board need to consider these items above and make it as publicly known as your dressing down you have just given to WA and its premier?
    It would be very sad if any Australian in the future would be required to face any international tribunal

  • David

    says:

    I wish everyone well for the future

  • Dale

    says:

    Well Joyce is calling a spade a spade.

  • ljklh

    says:

    The rest of Australia has thousands of people in hospital from Covid, many deaths everyday, countless people at home due to being sick from covid and vulnerable high risk citizens are stuck at home as it isn’t safe for them to go out.
    That isn’t damaging to the tourism industry?

    Meanwhile, in WA, no one is dropping dead from Covid everyday and it’s safe for everyone to be out and about including touring in their own state. Local tourism is actually booming in WA (and it was booming in other states too until they opened their borders and it crashed) Of course Qantas doesn’t make any money from local tourism…

  • Neil

    says:

    Looks like the photos taken by Victor Pody has an Error where the is photo of two Qantas Boeing 737-800s.One of the planes is a Qantas 787 Dreamliner.

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