The Qantas Group has stepped up its calls for Australian state and territory border openings based on medical risk assessments and a common definition of what constitutes a COVID hotspot.
The Qantas Group incorporating Jetstar is now encouraging firstly its employees – more than 20,000 of whom have been stood down since April due to border closures – to sign a petition in support of “Safely open our borders”.
Qantas says they are expecting other parts of the travel industry, including travel agents, airports, hotels and tour companies, will join the campaign.
Qantas and Jetstar’s 10,000 suppliers will also be asked to show their support – many of whom are small to medium enterprises that rely heavily on flights restarting for their businesses to survive.
The tourism sector as a whole employs more than one million people and generates billions in economic activity every year.
Those signing the online petition are asked to provide their postcode and leave a comment on what impact the border closures have had on them; those responses will then be sent to their local State and Federal MPs.
Separately, Qantas has written directly to State and Federal MPs who represent tourism-dependent electorates in states which did not agree to develop a road map out of hard border regimes following the National Cabinet meetings last Friday (i.e. Queensland and Western Australia), making the case for a common, medically-based framework for reopening.
Jetstar says that as an indication of the pent-up travel demand that exists domestically, when Jetstar ran a sale in June (as borders started to reopen) it beat all previous records for the rate of fares being sold, peaking at 220 fares per minute. This was more than twice its previous record and was the equivalent of filling one aircraft in less than 60 seconds.
Speaking about the border closures in August, Qantas Group Alan Joyce CEO said: “Nobody has an issue with the international borders being closed, that’s protected Australia. Nobody’s had an issue with the borders to Victoria being closed. But it’s very clear that we don’t have clear guidelines for when the borders will open, when they will close.”
“We have a situation where there are large numbers of states and territories that have had zero cases and they’re not even open to each other. Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland. Tasmania, we’ve got closure there still with very low cases, no cases and it’s been like that for a while and we don’t have any determination of when the borders will open.
“We need to have the framework for what will allow them to open to give certainty to the tourism industry, to our Company, to our employees and eventually at some stage, we know that we have to start that tourism industry again, the economy is depending on it.
“JobKeeper is helping a lot of states at the moment, but we need to get people back in jobs, otherwise we’re going to have a cliff that’s going to be bigger than the financial impact that COVID-19 has already caused. We need to do that in a safe way, but the moment it’s not clear what those rules are going to be and how they’re going to be applied and I think that’s a problem for a lot of business, it’s a problem for all business and eventually, it’s going to be a big problem for the economy.
“Some areas of Queensland, Tasmania, and other parts of the country, 30% of the jobs are dependent on tourism. If it’s safe to do it, it should be opened. We’re not saying open the borders blanketly; we’re saying let’s have the rules to say what would you have to see for those borders to be opened and so we all have clarity, and we all know it’s the right thing to do.”
Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO
Find out more here: www.qantas.com/au/safely-open-our-borders
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