Stranded Australians devastated by new flight cancellations in lead up to Christmas

“Living in a country that is almost fully vaccinated and wanting to return to a country that has been one of the least affected by COVID in the world, to have it avoided, is just extremely frustrating.

“It seems unfair, but there are so many Australians in the world who feel like we are being prevented from going home.”

Tamsyn Barker is the Asia-Pacific Managing Director of the FIRST global events agency. She called the cancellation of the flight “devastating”.

Singapore Airlines continued to fly to Australia during the pandemic.

Singapore Airlines spokesman Karl Schubert said the airline was doing everything possible to accommodate disturbed customers, but availability was limited by inbound caps.

“Until we receive advice from the federal and state governments on when international arrival caps will be removed, we continue to plan our operations in Australia accordingly,” he said.

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“This recently resulted in the cancellation of a number of flights, which were due to be operated at the end of last year from October 2021. While sales on these flights had been closed for several months, some customers had purchased seats on these flights when they were first scheduled last year.

“We apologize for the inconvenience caused by these cancellations. Although caps on international arrivals remain in place, we are unable to expand our passenger services to Australia at this time. “

After being halved from around 6,000 per week to 3,000 as of July 14, the cap on arrivals was further reduced in NSW this month from 1,500 to 750 per week.

Morrison has reported a transition to home quarantine for returning Australians fully vaccinated when the vaccination rate among the eligible population reaches 80%.

That mark is expected to be reached in December, but as the four-phase national stimulus package includes lifting the cap on return travelers to 80%, states such as Western Australia and Queensland have indicated they could be slower to open up than others. .

Airlines believe they are caught between a rock and a hard place, forcing them to continue canceling flights and offloading passengers despite growing rumors about the resumption of international travel.

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Barry Abrams, executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, said The Sydney Morning Herald and Age airlines last week had “no idea” what reopening international borders would mean in practice.

Singapore Airlines also raised concerns about the government’s lack of consultation, with its regional vice president Louis Arul saying a myriad of questions needed to be answered, including on staff vaccination at airports, color coding of flights (depending on risk) from different countries and airport capacities.

Singapore Airlines has carried out more than 3,600 passenger flights since last April, carrying around 70,000 people, most of them Australians.

It continues to fly with limited seats twice a day from Singapore to Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, three times a week to Adelaide and once a day to Sydney, having had to cut daily flights to NSW by half after the cap was tightened. arrivals last week.

The airline also carried more than 100,000 tonnes of cargo to Australia on 1,126 passenger planes during the pandemic, including 22 loads of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

More than 40,000 Australians abroad have registered as wishing to return home.

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