The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), representing pilots in the Qantas Group, has welcomed the announcement that South Australia has opened its border to travellers from New South Wales.
This is the first time since late March that people can travel into South Australia from New South Wales without isolating for fourteen days unless subject to an exemption. It comes a week after the state opened to travellers from the Australian Capital Territory.
AIPA President Mark Sedgwick said while this represents an important step for the travel and tourism industries, aviation will continue to struggle while international borders remain closed.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that more support will be required for aviation in the absence of a vaccine and with indefinite international border restrictions,” Mr Sedgwick said.
“Domestic flight capacity has been devastated and while Victoria remains in lockdown, Qantas has been running at only about 20-25 per cent of normal capacity across its domestic routes with no international flights.”
He said AIPA acknowledged the important public health benefits behind border restrictions for states with known community transmission.
AIPA is urging those states with no community transmission to open their borders.
“It is looking unlikely that we will see any international travel bubbles in the short term which is why we need our domestic borders to reopen,” Mr Sedgwick said.
“It simply isn’t feasible to close borders indefinitely while waiting for a vaccine and states must explore alternatives to domestic border closures where there is no community transmission of COVID-19.”
“We welcome the move by South Australia and encourage Western Australia and Queensland to open their borders in the lead up to Christmas where there are no instances of community transmission between states.”
The move by AIPA follows a petition by Qantas calling for an opening of domestic borders to fuel interstate tourism which has generated more than 40,000 signatures and an open letter from representatives of the tourism industry, calling for efficient screening protocols at borders to enable a return of interstate travel.
Mr Sedgwick said AIPA also recently put forward a “PilotKeeper” skill retention, study and training package to government that addresses the looming recency deadline and would enable Australia’s pilots to remain trained and current until they can return to active duty.