Currently, Qantas, Virgin and Region Express airlines are flying extremely limited domestic schedules. Qantas and its budget arm Jetstar are preparing to ramp up domestic services when border restrictions ease, with the company’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, urging travelers to begin planning their trips.
The Qantas chief executive has stated the airline will not be observing physical distancing aboard planes, either by spacing out passengers or leaving middle rows free. Joyce said that doing so would drastically inflate ticket prices and, given the seemingly low rates of transmission on airplanes, would not be economically justifiable.
“This idea of the middle seat isn’t social distancing, it’s a 60 cm difference between two people. To get the full squared, you will end up with 22 people on an aircraft of 180 seats and the airfares are nine to 10 times as much,” he told ABC radio.
Regional Express has said it will try to allocate alternating occupied and unoccupied seats where possible, however, it will still fill planes to capacity if need be. When announcing plans to ramp up domestic flights, the Qantas medical director, Dr Ian Hose good, said due to the physical arrangement of planes they were safer than other forms of public transit.
Sign up for Guardian Australia’s daily coronavirus email newsletter Prof Rain MacIntyre, a virologist at the University of NSW, told ABC she would not be flying until vaccinated for Covid-19. The infectious disease expert and epidemiology professor Marquise Claws told Guardian Australia that, like other densely populated enclosed spaces, planes were likely “brilliant amplification environments” for the virus.
“Preventing Covid-19 is a bundle of many things … When you can’t have one of those, such as social distancing, you need to protect yourself from inhaling or exhaling the virus with a mask.” It may be difficult for those with respiratory illnesses such as emphysema to wear a mask, but if you are medically able, Claw highly recommends you do so at all times while flying.
Qantas is currently not planning to make mask-wearing mandatory when its “fly well” safety procedures roll out on 12 June. From 1 June it will be mandatory for all passengers on Regional Express flights to wear a mask while travelling unless they are exempt for medical reasons.
Claws notes that if lower grade or cloth face masks are being used passengers should not talk during the flight. Measures at airports include contactless check-ins, extra disinfectant stations at terminals and rearranging the Qantas lounge.
This means as long as you haven’t already changed your booking, if you wake up with a raised temperature or any flu-like symptoms you are able to reschedule your flight with no charge. Rex said that in the event that someone was denied check-in due because they had a high temperature, the airline would allow them to rebook for a later date.
It depends on who you ask, but currently, no states or territories are actively encouraging travelers to come to visit. The national cabinet guidelines have suggested 10 July as the time to review interstate travel, however, it’s unclear which states are likely to follow this.
Jetstar has started offering more flights across Australia from June, indicating interstate travel bans may soon be a thing of the past. However, Jetstar is now selling flights out of Darwin and more options out of Perth after both cities recorded very few new cases of COVID-19.
From June 1, Jetstar is offering flights from Darwin to all major Australian cities, including daily services to Sydney. However, the federal government has yet to confirm exactly when it is likely to loosen travel bans and restrictions around the country.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the success of the staged lifting of restrictions will depend on Territorials “being the best they can be”. State and federal leaders will meet on May 11 to discuss which restrictions will be next in line to relax or eradicate.
Coronavirus restrictions are set to ease as gyms with massage parlors opening on June 13. On Jetstar, the route will increase from seven fights a week to 21. Credit: James D. Morgan/Getty Images“We know there is a lot of pent-up demand for air travel, and we are already seeing a big increase in customers booking and planning flights in the weeks and months ahead,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.
“Normally, we plan our capacity months in advance, but in the current climate we need to be flexible to respond to changing restrictions and demand levels.” From June 12, passengers will be given a mask to wear and wipes to sanitize their seat belts, tray and armrests, if they prefer.
Qantas Group Medical Director Dr Ian Hose good says physical distancing isn’t necessary onboard a plane because the risk of transmitting coronavirus is “extremely low”. “That’s due to a combination of factors, including the cabin air filtration system, the fact people don’t sit face-to-face and the high backs of aircraft seats acting as a physical barrier,” he said in a statement.
However, NSW Health currently recommends practicing COVID-19 safe behaviors such as physical distancing and hand hygiene when travelling within NSW, especially between Greater Sydney and regional and rural areas. Check the state government website for your destination for the latest information.
The Jarvis Bay Territory is a Commonwealth administered territory, occupying the Bergère Peninsula, and forming the southern boundary of Jarvis Bay. If you are planning to go to Jarvis Bay, check the community bulletins before you travel.
It is crucial that workers do not visit Aboriginal communities if they are ill, no matter how mild the symptoms, or if they have had contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. To mitigate this risk, organizations with staff who travel to rural and remote Aboriginal communities should complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan which includes consideration of the issues outlined in this checklist.
You have been in New Zealand for 14 days or more and not been in a designated COVID-19 outbreak location, and you are travelling to Australia on a quarantine-free flight. Some states and territories may require travelers from safe zone countries to quarantine on arrival.
Travelers who arrive by sea must be authorized to disembark by the Commissioner of Police or delegate and must go to a quarantine facility, hospital or other medical facility as directed by the Commissioner to undertake a quarantine period. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (symptoms include fever, cough, sore/scratchy throat, shortness of breath or loss of taste or loss of smell), let a member of the airline know immediately, or if you are in the airport tell a biosecurity officer or a health official.
Some require approval to travel across borders from NSW, or even a second 14-day isolation period when you arrive. If you are travelling to or from QLD, NSW and VIC it is important to remain up to date around the evolving quarantine and lockdown rules which may have changed as the situation develops.
If travelling interstate, check the below quarantine and self-isolation government requirements for each individual state in the drop downs below. Note: Face masks are mandatory in all Australian airports and on domestic flights excluding children 12 and under or those with particular exemptions.
South Australia lifted its quarantine requirements on Sunday, January 17 for travelers from Greater Brisbane, except those linked to the Grand Chancellor closer high risk locations. As of 12:01am January 1, South Australia’s borders are closed to some parts of NSW, and essential travelers must apply for an exception.
Greater Brisbane will end its restrictions at 1am on Friday, January 22, meaning face masks will no longer be mandatory at indoor public spaces but will remain mandatory in airports and on planes as per the Federal Government's mandate. Border to QLD is closed to Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong.
Travelers arriving from the NSW hotspots must apply for an exemption, and if granted, enter hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense. Travelers for QLD will not be per missed into WA from midnight January 8 unless they have an exemption for the lockdown period and afterward until any change is announced.
Residents of Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains must wear a mask in certain indoor settings. Face masks are mandatory in all NT airports and onboard all flights from January 20.
All travelers already in the NT who have been in Brisbane since January 2 are encouraged to self-isolate and get tested immediately. Anyone travelling from this area must undertake 14 days of supervised quarantine in either Alice Springs or Darwin, at a cost of $2500 per person.
Borders are open to all states except for 10 local government hot spot areas in Greater Sydney. ACT residents who have been in an affected area must complete an online declaration, and self-quarantine for 14 days.
Greater Brisbane moved from red to orange zone restrictions at 6pm January 16. The Blue Mountains, Wollongong and most of Greater Sydney will move from a red zone to orange from 6pm January 18, joining Regional NSW.
Anyone travelling to Victoria from orange zones will still need to apply for a permit, get a test within 72 hours and remain in isolation until they receive a negative result. Anyone wishing to enter Victoria must first apply for a travel permit, this includes residents returning home.
Australia’s borders are currently closed International travel is currently banned for Australian citizens & permanent residents without an exemption Temporary visa holders & visitors do not require exemption to leave Australia, but will need one to return All arrivals into Australia are required to pay for their own government-directed quarantine, except for those arriving from New Zealand who don't need to quarantine as part of the 'Trans Tasman travel bubble' agreement. It may feel like a rare occurrence to see a plane in the sky at the moment, but each day there are still hundreds of flights taking off and landing across the country.
Airlines maintain various requirements around the use of face masks and provision of evidence of negative COVID-19 test results while travelers are in transit and when arriving at the final destination aligning with border controls. Some airlines are providing complimentary face masks which they encourage passengers to wear, while others are not.
This information is subject to change without notice, we recommend you familiarize yourself with the relevant airline and government policies at the time of booking and again immediately before travel. Enhanced ‘gate-screening’ processes to identify symptoms of concern displayed by any boarding passenger.
Providing onboard PPE kits and encouraging the use of face masks in flight. Encouraging the use of the COVIDSafe app Encouraging social distancing where possible, in terminal, kerbside, in car parks and on transfer buses, including installing floor markings and bollards where practical Free sanitation stations at terminal entry points, screening locations, on transfer buses and at boarding gates Increasing cleaning schedules and touch point sanitation with hospital grade disinfectant in terminal, on transfer buses and in car parks Trolley wipe stations installed in car parks and trolley stations Sharing hygiene and social distancing reminders via static and digital signage and PAs in terminals, car parks and buses Encouraging meters and greeters and non-travellers to not enter the terminals, where practical Providing protective sneeze screens and PPE for front line staff where practical Providing additional hygiene training for staff and contractors.
Something to consider when flying is that throughout several of the country’s airports, much food and retail outlets are also temporarily closed. For instance Brisbane Airport continues to follow the advice of Queensland Health and as such, while staff are welcome to wear face masks and PPE at BNE, this is not currently a mandatory requirement.