Extra flights, quarantine to bring stranded Aussies home

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 17, 2020

The Federal Government has struck a deal with the Northern Territory Government to extend the use of the facility until at least the end of March.

A National Cabinet meeting meant to discuss a "national reopening" and repatriating Australians stranded overseas has been dramatically derailed after Prime Minister Scott Morrison's RAAF jet suffered technical difficulties while in Cairns. The arrangement could be extended if necessary.

Mr Morrison says it will be on top of the current hotel quarantine arrangements and the recent increase in caps on global arrivals.

Passengers will be slugged $2150 for the one-way flight from London, $1750 from Johannesburg and $1500 from New Delhi. The flights will be operated by 787-9 Dreamliners and take 175 passengers each.

Mr Morrison has confirmed that returning passengers will be required to pay $2,000 per individual or $5,000 per family for use of the Howard Springs facility, which is already being used for quarantining seasonal workers flying into Australia.

Passengers arriving from South Africa will not be quarantined at Howard Springs.

"The Prime Minister is clearly responsible for our national borders, he is clearly responsible for quarantine and he is clearly responsible for keeping 29,000 Australians stranded overseas".

"We're getting more and more and more Australians home", he told reporters in Sydney on Friday. The first two flights will depart from London on October 22nd and Delhi on October 26th.

"Since the pandemic started, we've operated over 100 worldwide flights to bring Australians home with the government's support".

It's expected that will allow an additional 5000 Australians to return home in that time.

Qantas will charge Aussies for their tickets but 4,000 vulnerable Aussies will be given priority access.

Not all returning Australians will be quarantined at Howard Springs.

"That would give us, roughly, over that period of time, given the two-week quarantine period plus the cleansing of the facility in between groups coming through of around about 5,000 people over that period of time", he said.

There are about 26,000 Australians stranded overseas, including about 3000 in vulnerable situations.

"But the good news is of the around about just over 4000 Australians who are identified and DFAT identified as vulnerable on 18 September, just over a quarter of those have now been able to return to Australia".

More than 29,000 Australians overseas want to come home and nearly 3000 are considered to be vulnerable.

Which airline carrier will bring Australians home from India?

Thousands of Australians stranded in the United Kingdom and India will be brought home with Qantas flights to Darwin.

"As the national carrier, this is something we are proud to do", Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.

"The flight got cancelled at the last minute and I am still awaiting a refund from Air India four months later".

Mr Morrison said the national hotspot definition, developed by acting Chief Medical Officer and epidemiologist professor Paul Kelly, was a three-day average of 10 cases or more.

"People are so desperate that they line up at the Air India office at 8 am every morning hoping that the ticket counter will open and new flights will become available".

The first travellers will be Australians who have deemed to be vulnerable by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Check your state's restrictions on gathering limits. Have you been trying to get home?

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