The Australian government, Qantas and Virgin Australia have reached a deal to rescue Australians still overseas.
Under the deal the airlines would fly with an empty cabin, but full of freight to 4 international hubs, London, LA, Hong Kong and Auckland. The government would subsidise the outgoing flights, with returning passengers paying full fare. The government would also make up the shortfall if the airfares don’t cover the full cost of the return flights. Return flights would also contain medical supplies and freight.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, who is also Transport Minister, said in a press release, “This is about getting Australians back home as soon as possible [and] will also provide much-needed freight capacity to Australian exporters and importers to these destinations. This assistance builds on the more than $1 billion of support we have already committed to the sector, showing the government’s determination to sustain Australia’s aviation industry.”
All returning passengers will be required to spend 2 weeks in quarantine on arrival.
Press Release by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister:
A continuing network of flights to four key international hubs will be established — London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Auckland — for the next four weeks to help Australians get home.
The Federal Government has worked with Australia’s two major international airlines, Qantas and Virgin Australia, to establish the network.
These four routes will ensure there is a backbone to global travel options for Australians wanting to come home. With the rapid reduction in commercial airline travel seen in recent weeks, we know many Australian travellers face difficulty getting home.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said these locations were chosen based on providing accessibility to the largest number of overseas Australians possible.
“This is about getting Australians back home as soon as possible,” Mr McCormack said.
“These flights will also provide much-needed freight capacity to Australian exporters and importers to these destinations.
“This assistance builds on the more than $1 billion of support we have already committed to the sector, showing the Government’s determination to sustain Australia’s aviation industry.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said the message to Australians overseas is clear: they should not hesitate if they have an opportunity to take commercial flights home.
“Many Australians will be able to get to one of these four destinations. They can do so knowing there will be an Australian airline to get them home,” Minister Payne said.
“We recognise that, in some cases, this will not be possible. We will continue to work closely with airlines and our overseas consular assistance network in these situations.
“Where there are no commercial options available, the Government will consider supporting, on a case-by-case basis, non-scheduled services to other overseas destinations.
“We are continuing our constructive discussions with Qantas and Virgin on flights to less accessible destinations, including South America and the Pacific.”