Border watch: holidaymakers jumping for joy

Hitching up the caravan or booking a flight - movement is starting to become more and more possible. Picture: Shutterstock
Hitching up the caravan or booking a flight - movement is starting to become more and more possible. Picture: Shutterstock

Holidaymakers are jumping for joy. The Northern Territory is now open to Sydneysiders - the border opened on Friday. Last week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced she would open the border to greater New South Wales by the beginning of November.

But the caveat is NSW needs to record 28 days with no unlinked community transmission. On Thursday, Sydney recorded three COVID-19 cases which health authorities must link to known outbreaks to stop the border clock resetting to zero.

For decades, NSW families have flocked north to the Sunshine State after Christmas. The summer days are spent frolicking on the sand under stripy umbrellas or bodysurfing in clear blue water. Many will be disappointed if this year it's not possible.

In South Australia this week, it was announced that residents from the Australian Capital Territory, NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia will be allowed to visit.

Tasmania looks set to allow residents from SA, WA, Queensland, the Northern Territory and the ACT. And if NSW keeps numbers low, residents might be able to join everyone in the Apple Isle.

The relaxing of the borders might be the saving grace for our struggling airlines. Aviation experts have said that if borders are not opened soon, 95 per cent of the industry's workforce could be out of work.

Qantas and Virgin Australia collectively employ 40,000 people. But currently, both airlines are now operating at 5 per cent. And according to Air Intelligence aviation economist Tony Webber, if that continues, we could see only 2000 people employed in the industry.

Even when borders reopen, it will take some time to get planes in the air. There are strict regulations on the amount of recent flying time pilots must have in order to fly passengers. And with so few planes flying, most of the pilots won't be logging the hours they need to be able to fly commercially. They'll need to build up their hours in the air or in simulators.

"If [airlines] are not flying enough sectors, you can't get enough people trained," aviation expert Neil Hansford told the ABC's 7.30.

"We would be lucky for the two airlines to be able to produce 70 per cent of their previous capacity in the peak month of December for Christmas."

But in some good news, and to help the airline industry back on its feet, sale fares are being released. Jetstar, for instance, is offering one-way flights from Hobart to Adelaide for just $96 and Hobart to Brisbane from $138 from October 30. From Canberra to Tasmania, there are flight options starting from $422 return.

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