Thursday’s Qantas announcement, solidifying the loss of 6,000 jobs hit Australia hard.
With the country’s population sitting at the top of the list when it comes to overseas travel, the ban on international flights is bound to have a collateral effect.
According to Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, as Australia’s international borders are likely to stay close for the remainder of 2020 flights can potentially pick up in size in July next year.
“We have to be realistic about it and saying with what’s happening in the rest of the globe, it is probably an extended period of time before we’ll open up those borders,” Mr Joyce said.
Responding to this comment, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that before international travel resumes he was hoping Australia can come to an arrangement with New Zealand.
“Whether it’s with other nations, a number of other countries expressed an interest given our health success in Australia. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be invitations we take up,” he said.
“As you look around the world and you see the intensity of the virus escalating, not decelerating, then I think it is not unreasonable for Alan Joyce to form the view he has. No-one really knows and that’s the problem.”
This comment did not surprise Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westaway either , who told ABC News that “Sadly, Qantas are on the money”.
“It’s been a pretty sobering experience over recent months … the reality is this year’s shot. There will be shock but this is the reality check that people really need to start to absorb.”
On the same note, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy added that unless a vaccine against COVID-19 is developed and administered to the public, he could not see travel to and from Australia getting back to normal.
“To fully open the international border without any quarantining or any restrictions probably will require a vaccine to be able to adequately protect vulnerable people in the community and if we get enough vaccine to develop sufficient herd immunity,” he said.
“Until that happens, we’re going to have some sort of border measures.”
Professor Raina MacIntyre from the University of New South Wales agreed the border closure had been crucial and said a vaccine could be key to restrictions lifting.
“It may become a requirement to be vaccinated to travel in the future,” she argued.
“But until then and while the disease is just rising around the world, it’s very hard to see how we could open the borders safely.”