The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Gov­ern­ment steps up to fly stranded Aussies home

- STEPHEN DRILL Airlines · Aviation · Australia News · Travel · Transportation · Industries · Emirates Airlines · United Arab Emirates · Birmingham (England) · Tasmania · Canberra · Northern Territory · United Kingdom · India · University of New South Wales · Australia · Qantas · Sydney · Melbourne · Brisbane · New South Wales · Queensland · Western Australia · Simon Birmingham

THE fed­eral gov­ern­ment has stepped in to help stranded Aus­tralians get home amid fears other air­lines will fol­low Emi­rates’ shock de­ci­sion and stop in­ter­na­tional flights.

The gov­ern­ment will foot the bill for a fur­ther 20 in­ter­na­tional flights, act­ing For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham said.

The flights will op­er­ate out­side the ex­ist­ing cap on pas­sen­ger num­bers and fly into places such as Tas­ma­nia, Can­berra and the Howard Springs quar­an­tine fa­cil­ity in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

The an­nounce­ment, which will ap­ply to flights from the end of Jan­uary to the end of March, will fo­cus on vul­ner­a­ble Aus­tralians in lo­ca­tions where it is dif­fi­cult to get home, in­clud­ing the UK and India. It adds to the 90 flights that the gov­ern­ment has al­ready fa­cil­i­tated.

But fears re­main in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try that Emi­rates’ an­nounce­ment could lead to a domino ef­fect of other air­lines stop­ping their flights.

UNSW avi­a­tion ex­pert Tony Web­ber said un­til now he be­lieved Emi­rates would have been the last air­line to pull out of flights to Aus­tralia “con­sid­er­ing their size and gov­ern­ment back­ing”.

“So them pulling out means that other air­lines may fol­low, as those air­lines would likely be un­der even more fi­nan­cial pres­sure,” he said.

“It prob­a­bly wasn’t com­mer­cially vi­able be­fore the cap re­duc­tion but now it would seem less vi­able.

“This also may re­sult in more in­ter­na­tional flights home be­ing done by Qan­tas.”

Emi­rates an­nounced on Fri­day that it would cease flights to Sydney, Mel­bourne and Brisbane.

The move came af­ter NSW, Queens­land and West­ern Aus­tralia halved their num­ber of over­seas ar­rivals un­til at least Fe­bru­ary 15.

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