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Friday, October 23, 2020

Canberra Airport pleads ‘open the state borders’

Canberra Airport is pleading with state governments to open their borders, following an announcement from Qantas today, 25 June, detailing further cuts to the aviation industry.

The national carrier announced a $15 billion reduction in costs over the next three years, including a further 6,000 job losses while 15,000 workers remain stood down.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said opening state borders was essential in avoiding more hits to the struggling industry.

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“Our hearts go out to Qantas and their staff, but this is a matter of survival for our industry, and the industries that flow from it,” he said.

“The reason the job losses are as high as they are is because the state borders have remained closed against the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Australia.

“Their advice is to open the borders and we do need that to protect jobs and to protect livelihoods – please open the borders.”

Over 200 Qantas workers operate out of Canberra Airport, but Mr Byron said he was unsure how many would be affected by the cuts.   

“Qantas have indicated they want to communicate directly with their workforce and once they have done that, we will be informed about the extent of the losses here in Canberra,” he said.

“We will get an idea of the impact of the jobs in the coming days.”

He said the Canberra economy would continue to be affected by these announcements, with the lack of business travel having an impact on local hotel and hospitality industries as well.

In its announcement today, Qantas predicted its domestic demand would not return to 100% until 2021-22, while there is still no sight of international travel returning to normal.

byron canberra airport open borders empty terminal
Mr Byron said the Canberra economy would continue to be affected by these announcements, with the lack of business travel having an impact on local hotel and hospitality industries as well.

On 4 June, the carrier announced it would triple the number of weekly domestic return flights departing from Canberra by the end of the month. 

Canberra Airport had previously submitted a business case to the Federal Government about the possibility of flights departing to New Zealand, which Mr Byron said he was still feeling hopeful for.

“Our conversations with the Federal Government are progressing and are very positive, it makes sense for Australia to accept people from New Zealand,” he said. 

“We hope there’s good positive messages out of National Cabinet in the coming days.”

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