Jetstar (JQ) has responded to concerns that a breach of NSW coronavirus screening protocols at Sydney Airport could lead to new cases with CEO Gareth Evans saying the incident was “unfortunate.”
The concern came after passengers on flight JQ520 from Melbourne to Sydney were allowed to disembark the aircraft and leave the airport on Tuesday night before NSW Health officials arrived at the gate to screen everyone onboard.
Most of the passengers were able to be screened before they left the terminal but 48 passengers did leave the airport and then had to be followed up later by NSW Health officials.
A storm in teacup?
In a statement, JQ stressed that all passengers onboard had been subjected to temperature and identity checks in Melbourne before they boarded the flight.
Speaking to the ABC, NSW chief medical officer Kerry Chant said that all passengers had now been contacted and tested, except for five who are being tested today.
“All of the follow-up action has occurred, and I’m pleased to say that five, the final five, are being tested today,” Dr Chant said.
In a media briefing today, Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans said that the breach was “unfortunate”.
“They [the screening protocols] are different in every state and that causes confusion,” he said.
“These have been developed and changed very quickly over a number of days.
“Yes, it’s unfortunate that it happened — it’s a combination of the NSW Health person not being there and our people, unfortunately, disembarking the aircraft.”
Gareth Evans, Jetstar CEO
While some comparisons were made with the infamous Ruby Princess debacle, Mr Evans was quick to reject the claims and emphasise that this was a very different set of circumstances.
“The risk is extremely low, extremely low, and it’s a very, very different situation to the Ruby Princess.”
“These passengers were screened when they got on the aircraft in Melbourne. The screening has taken place, it’s just that the double-check of screening didn’t happen straight away.
As a further security step, Mr Evans said JQ flights would now stop short of the gate until an NSW Health team was in place to screen passengers after disembarkation.
“Jetstar and the Qantas group as a whole is doing everything it can working with the authorities to make sure people fly safely in these difficult and challenging times,” said Mr Evans.
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