The Brisbane airport general manager said he was “quietly confident” that international commercial flights could return by Christmas.
However, Gert-Jan de Graaff also warned that if Queensland waited too long to allow no-cap travel, airlines would take their business elsewhere. “It would be terrible for the Queenslanders,” he said.
The national plan agreed to by all states and territories would see international travel resume when 80% of double vaccination is achieved, although Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk has since questioned the very opening of interstate borders.
Speaking to the Brisbane Times, de Graaff said: â€œAs we plan to reach the 80% double vaccination mark in early December, we are confident that some services will return by Christmas. “
Brisbane Airport currently handles up to 80 international passenger flights per week, but strict arrival ceilings mean around 1,000 citizens are allowed to return. If Queensland allowed home quarantine, an additional 14,500 could arrive on existing schedules alone.
“Outbound bookings have increased for the period from mid-December, but many people are still suspending their bookings until quarantine requirements are clear upon their return to Australia,” he said.
“If about 40 hotels for 14 days is required, then that will be a demand killer.”
de Graaff has continuously urged governments to do more to restart travel and in July warned that international airlines “may well leave Australia behind” as vaccinated countries now begin to remove COVID restrictions.
â€œPolicies need to be in place to ensure Australia’s connectivity to the world is protected,â€ he said.
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“We look forward to seeing Australian vaccination rates increase as soon as possible and move on to the ‘consolidation phase’ of the national plan so that we can allow vaccinated Australians to travel again and vaccinated visitors to come to Australia. “
It comes as NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres suggested this weekend that international travel could resume in Sydney as soon as the end of this month.
Currently, the state has pledged to change hotels to a home quarantine to restart commercial flights when it hits 80% double-dose vaccinations, but no firm start date has been announced.
Qantas has scheduled flights to London to start on November 14, but said the exact date could be moved forward or back.
Speaking on Sunday, Ayres said, â€œI think it’s a very good goal to look at the end of October or the beginning of November as an opportunity where we can start to see the caps removed or significantly lifted for fully vaccinated people.
“My very clear expectation is for unvaccinated people or people who do not have a vaccine recognized by the TGA, these caps will remain in place and quarantine in some form will remain for these people.”
His comments follow similar allusions made over the weekend by New South Wales’ new premier Dominic Perrottet and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Perrottet said he wanted international travel to resume “as quickly as possible” and said Australia could not “live like a hermit kingdom halfway around the world”.
â€œIf people are doubly vaccinated, it makes perfect sense that they return to Australia in a better setting than being cramped in a hotel for two weeks,â€ he said.
Morrison meanwhile said the federal government would seek to “speed up” the process of resuming flights to New South Wales.