Travelling to Australia could be possible once vaccination targets have been met, but what can international students expect for New South Wales borders? Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously said the national plan allows for states that had 80% of its adults fully vaccinated to resume international travel even if other states had not.
New South Wales has become Australia’s first state to vaccinate 80% of people aged over 16 with at least one COVID-19 jab, said local reports. New South Wales could hit the 70% double jab target earlier than expected, given how vaccine uptake was tracking.
New South Wales borders: What we know
Earlier this month, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she aims to ease restrictions and attempt to resume international travel when vaccination targets are met, regardless of what the other states do. The availability of flights, however, could put this plan in a pickle.
According to The Guardian, foreign airlines will not be able to ramp up operations to meet the mass reopening of international travel into Sydney when 80% vaccination is reached because they will need several months to recall laid off staff and retrieve planes that have been parked in deserts.
Board of Airline Representatives of Australia executive director Barry Abrams told Guardian Australia that airlines continued to be left in the dark about what the new rules and passenger limits would be, leaving them stuck “in a holding pattern” unable to commence planning for resuming routes.
Abrams said carriers that had not flown to the country in more than a year had not yet begun allocating aircraft or staff to Australian routes, nor had they begun renegotiating contracts with ground handling crews and local supply businesses.
Logistical hurdles for travelling to Australia
The uptick in vaccinations may spell good news for New South Wales borders, but flights could still be an issue. Airlines are currently flying planes with about 6,000 empty seats a day into Sydney airport and were only able to carry 110 passengers, said The Guardian. Abrams said the logistical hurdles international airlines must plan for to introduce new services meant passenger intake will not dramatically increase for several months.
“Without any clear plan here, there is simply no logical reason for an international airline to begin considering increasing its flights into Australia,” Abrams was quoted saying.
Separately, the Morrison government is creating a digital vaccine passport — the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) — for international travel. Accenture has been awarded a contract to develop the DPD, which will undergo testing before being deployed throughout major Australian airports.
In preparation for Australia relaxing restrictions on international travel, Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism Dan Tehan was quoted saying by CNN on Sunday that the government would be trying vaccine passports with a number of major travel destinations through Australia’s diplomatic missions overseas. Among the countries highlighted include Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US, and Australia’s neighbouring Pacific islands.