Parochialism is a word that’s being thrown around a lot lately. Often followed closely by ‘McGowan’ and ‘WA.’
But being a hermit state within a hermit nation has its consequences. And some of those consequences have started being laid bare this week.
In the same week that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed a bunch of upcoming new freedoms for NSW residents (including the tantalising prospect of international travel coming relatively soon), Qantas has announced it will be putting its Perth-London flights on ice until at least April 2022.
Qantas on Monday announced it has cancelled the bulk of its flights scheduled from Western Australia to Victoria and NSW over summer and will eschew Perth on its non-stop flights to London because of Western Australia’s reluctance to reopen its border.
The Qantas 787 was the best thing about Perth what do they have now?
— John Macgowan (@john_macgowan) September 27, 2021
Qantas said on Monday it would instead run a daily Melbourne-Darwin-London service from December, when it expects the federal government to reopen Australia’s international border.
It’s not quite the Kangaroo route of old…
It only took 17 hours non-stop. 70 years ago it 4 days.
— Testy🤠Texan (@DonaldWithrow1) March 26, 2018
…but still – it involves quite a few more hops than the one leg journey many have become accustomed to.
Qantas also said it is “delaying the restart of domestic flying between Western Australia and Victoria / New South Wales by two months to 1 February 2022, based on border assumptions.”
The airline added: “Qantas will continue to operate five return flights a week between Perth and both Sydney and Melbourne to maintain minimum connections for those with permits to travel.”
Qantas also announced that internationally, flights are still on track to gradually restart from the 18th of December 2021 onwards, which is when Australia is expected to have reached the National Cabinet’s ‘Phase C’ vaccination threshold of 80 per cent.
“However, as previously flagged, Qantas will temporarily reroute its flagship Perth-London service until at least April 2022 due to the latest WA border settings and assumptions,” the airline said.
“Qantas is in detailed discussions with the NT Government and Darwin Airport to assess operating the direct London flight from Darwin during this time,” Qantas added.
“The national carrier has successfully used Darwin as a hub for its repatriation flights to various destinations across Europe, Asia and the Middle East over the past 12 months.”
In other news, NSW premier Ms Berejiklian has said the first freedoms for fully vaccinated (NSW) residents will be from October 11, the first Monday after NSW reaches 70 per cent fully vaccinated.
“The Premier expects the 80 per cent target to be hit just two weeks later, which will include the return of regional travel and the ability for residents to ‘consider’ international trips,” news.com.au reports.
“We believe by 1 December we will be at that Covid normal state where hopefully we will be booking our international travel, once the Prime Minister gives that green light we will be able to go overseas as well,” the Premier said.
“The Prime Minister and I have been in engaging in very positive conversation about what will occur. The Federal Government makes those decisions [regarding international borders] but we are very encouraged that certain airlines have made announces about destinations they might fly to and we are encouraged by that.”
“That is why we have started the home quarantine trial so that fully vaccinated Australians will have confidence that if they do choose to go overseas and come back home they will be able to stay out their quarantine at home and potentially only for a 7-day period.”
“Ms Berejiklian said at 80 per cent, while interstate travel may not return for all jurisdictions — such as WA or Queensland — intrastate travel will make a welcome return for the vaccinated,” news.com.au reports.
“The third stage of reopening will happen on 1 December. That is at least four or five weeks after we hit the 80 per cent double dose. We envisage we will have at least 90 per cent of our adult population vaccinated by then.”
Ms Berejiklian also said she hopes other states will let NSW residents visit once 80 per cent of NSW is fully vaccinated.
“I don’t want to it be the case that I will be able to go overseas before I can go to Perth,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“I hope Australia will open up together once we get to those double dose figures and we will be able to, as one nation, move freely within our own country as well as have the opportunity to go overseas.”
Qantas has scheduled international flights to the UK, the US, Japan, Singapore, Canada and Fiji from December the 18th and 19th. This schedule being able to go ahead as planned depends on the Morrison government giving the green light and opening Australia’s international border.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has said what will make or break demand for international travel will be the quarantine requirements in place for returning Australian travellers (something which also remains unclear).
“The key factor in determining the ongoing demand level for international flying will be what the quarantine arrangements are for Australians when they return,” Mr Joyce said in Monday’s press release.
“The seven day home quarantine trial in New South Wales is a great step forward and we’re hoping the system evolves quickly for vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries to not have to quarantine on arrival, particularly given Australia itself is on track to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.”
“That’s fast becoming the standard between many countries overseas.”