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An airline industry advocacy group has put out a statement criticizing the border closure of the Australian state of Queensland. In the notice to media, released today, Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) calls the Queensland border closure ‘devastating’ and ‘totally baffling.’ Let’s find out more about the border closure and what A4ANZ is demanding from the government.
Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) is an industry group “established as a voice to represent airlines based in Australia & New Zealand.” It represents the interests of Qantas, Jetstar, Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, and Regional Express.
What is A4ANZ on about?
As of 01:00 on November 3rd, Queensland will open its borders to many portions of New South Wales. However, the policy that has drawn fire from A4ANZ is that Queensland will remain closed to Greater Sydney and Victoria.
Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) is saying that Queensland’s border closure is ‘totally baffling’ in light of the agreed approach and thresholds contained in the National Cabinet’s Framework for National Reopening.
“Australia’s domestic airlines have worked tirelessly since the start of this pandemic to support essential, COVID Safe travel, and manage risk on the basis of health and medical advice. Our members are simply perplexed, however, by the approach taken today which just extends the uncertainty for so many Australians.” -Prof Graeme Samuel AC, Chairman, A4ANZ
A4ANZ says that decision to keep Queensland’s borders closed will have significant consequences for the nearly five million Australians living in the neighboring state of New South Wales, “hurting businesses, the economy and most of all, families who continue to be separated by seemingly arbitrary border restrictions.”
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New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state and home to one of the country’s largest cities, Sydney.
Why is Queensland excluding Greater Sydney?
Of course, the border restriction has everything to do with COVID-19 and an attempt to curb the spread of the contagious virus. Greater Sydney has officially been declared a ‘hotspot’ by the Queensland Government, resulting in strict measures to limit travel.
A4ANZ disagrees with the categorization. In the group’s media statement, Prof Samuel added, “Classifying the 32 Local Government Areas (LGAs) that represent Greater Sydney as a ‘hot-spot’ when they do not meet the definition agreed to by National Cabinet, on advice from the Acting Chief Medical Officer, is hard to understand and even harder to accept.”
A4ANZ’s CEO, Dr Alison Roberts, says that “Internal border controls have rarely been adopted in other countries as part of their COVID responses, and Australia is well behind other countries in getting domestic aviation flying.” Dr Roberts adds that Australian domestic capacity is at just 21% of what it was at the same time last year.
What does A4ANZ want?
The answer is obvious: A4ANZ would prefer to have these border restrictions relaxed. However, it stops short of saying this explicitly. Rather, the group calls for all states and territories to work with the National Cabinet’s Framework for National Reopening and ‘not against it.’
“The reopening framework takes a risk-based approach and is based on expert advice. It creates much-needed national consistency, and allows some certainty for workers and families, planning trips across the border in the lead up to Christmas. -Dr Alison Roberts, CEO, A4ANZ
Do you think the State of Queensland is making the right call to consider Greater Sydney a hotspot and restrict travel? Or do A4ANZ’s criticisms have merit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Simple Flying reached out to the Queensland government requesting a reaction or response to A4ANZ’s press release. At the time of publication, no response was received.