Travelers desperate to see their family in Queensland and be on the Sunshine State’s beaches for Christmas after an extraordinary year flooded airline websites Tuesday morning.
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk finally gave Sydney-Sierre the green light to travel north of the border, which, according to Virgin Australia, resulted in a spate of travel bookings within hours.
When the borders open on December 1st, the airline will offer three daily connections between Sydney and Brisbane, increasing to seven a day by Christmas.
Flights between Sydney and other Sunshine State destinations such as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns will also increase.
The online search for online flights between Sydney and various Queensland airports has returned to pre-coronavirus levels, which, according to Virgin Australia, indicates a significant pent-up demand for domestic travel.
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The easing of the borders is welcome news for the aviation industry crippled during the coronavirus crisis, said Russel Shaw, senior manager at Virgin Australia.
“We recognize our role as one of Queensland’s largest employers and our ability to contribute to both the Queensland and New South Wales tourism industries,” he said.
“The additional services are being timed to provide customers with choice and convenience, while also giving travelers the opportunity to do business and reconnect with loved ones, families and friends before the well-deserved Christmas break.”
Qantas has also announced that hundreds of additional flights will take to the skies before Christmas, with more than 1200 additional flights from New South Wales and Victoria to the Sunshine State.
Beginning December 1, the two airlines will increase flight operations between Sydney and seven destinations from 36 round-trip flights a week to more than 160, and bring the group’s flight schedule back to around 60 percent of pre-coronavirus levels.
“This is news that many families have been waiting for so long,” said Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Group.
“With the demand we’re already seeing, Queenslanders can expect a lot more visitors in the next few months.
“Australia as a whole needs reassurance that state borders will remain open, especially when the testing and traceability framework is now so well established. We are again calling for a uniform set of rules that applies nationwide. “
Victorians could also return to the state the same day if they hit the 28-day milestone of unrelated COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
Ms Palaszczuk announced Tuesday that Sydney has now met the requirements Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young had set for the border to reopen. A decision on Victoria will be announced on Wednesday.
“I hope this is welcome news for families in Queensland in time for Christmas,” said Ms. Palaszczuk.
“Everything (in Victoria) looks positive.”
Daniel Gschwind, chairman of the board of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, said it was “huge news”.
“It’s a relief and a timely Christmas present that Queensland has given itself and all of the tourism companies in the state,” said Gschwind.
“It was important to have this announcement now so that we can save part of the summer season for the important interstate market. Hopefully the airlines can answer now.
“Operators from Coolangatta to Cairns will love the opportunity to get back to doing what they do best: delivering great experiences to visitors from all over Australia. This really prepares them for a more positive end of the year. “