After trying to return to Australia since April last year, Grace Calvert was finally booked to fly from London to Sydney on Thursday this week.
- Cabinet announces caps on international travelers to NSW, Queensland and WA to be halved by mid-February
- Perth travel agent says reduced caps further threaten the reliability of flights from Australia
- About 37,000 people are registered with the DFAT as wanting to return because they are abroad
International travelers’ hats to New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia will reduce their risk of exposure to the highly contagious corona virus in the UK before the National Cabinet announces that it will be halted by mid-February.
International travelers must also return a negative COVID test before boarding.
“I received an email last night saying it had been canceled so I could get a refund or a voucher,” Ms Calvert said.
“That’s it. I couldn’t catch anyone. They sent it at 5:30 p.m.
“I believe I was one of many attempts.”
The 22-year-old lives in Bristol. He lost his job and will soon have to vacate his apartment.
“Then there was no information about going on the plane. It was canceled,” he said.
She thinks she can come back soon because she is looking for available planes.
While the Northern Region will increase the intake of returning travelers, the total number allowed to return to Australia will be significantly reduced over the next few weeks.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has confirmed that the number of passengers on three return flights to Brisbane has been halved in the coming weeks.
For those on commercial flights, airlines need to determine how they comply with the reduced cap.
Although it is not known whether Ms Calvert’s cancellation of her flight is a direct result of the new cap, she suspects it may be.
Etihad quotes the reduced cap
Michael Etherton was scheduled to fly from London to Sydney on Sunday 17 January.
His ticket was canceled on Monday with an airline called Etihad citing a new cap on international arrivals.
“Your upcoming booking has been affected due to these capacity restrictions and you will not be able to travel as planned,” it said.
Mr Eatherington traveled to the UK in April last year to care for his elderly mother.
Now that he has a Govt vaccine, he wants to return home to Sydney for his family and his work.
Departing on February 1, he spent 000 14,000 on a business class ticket.
“I’m 61, so I have savings, so I had to bite the bullet,” he said.
“I have four children back in Australia and got the job I wanted to go back to on February 2nd.”
He said he was frustrated with the Australian government for not doing much to help citizens stranded abroad.
He knows there is no guarantee of a place on the plane and he hopes the higher fare will help secure his trip home.
Some flights may not be feasible
Perth travel agent Brian Conway and his colleagues have been working for months to trap Australians abroad on return flights.
He has been overwhelmed by calls since airlines began canceling flights rather than the reduced passenger cap that will come into effect on Friday.
“We are starting to see the impact of cap reductions and airlines are starting to cancel existing bookings, so it can be a bit difficult to find alternative flights for these displaced passengers,” he said.
Mr Conway said the reduced cap further threatened the reliability of flights from Australia, with many airlines now being forced to operate at 5 to 10 per cent.
“I can only assume that the cargo carried by these planes is partly guaranteed for services, and the revenue generated by the passengers is a high level,” he said.
This means that the more passengers pay, the more likely they are to secure a place in an airline home, but there is still no guarantee.
“There is no doubt about it, tickets in premium cabins are very desirable for airlines, however that does not mean they are nonsense,” he said.
A spokesman for the DFAT said in a statement that about 440,000 Australians have returned home since March 2020.
About 37,000 people are overseas and want to return, and return flights are scheduled for the coming weeks, according to the DFAT.