Qantas boss Alan Joyce slams Annastacia Palaszczuk’s NSW border decision

Qantas boss Alan Joyce has slammed the Queensland Government’s decision to keep Sydney banned from the state, saying it was “ridiculous” and warning it would simply drive holiday-makers to other destinations instead.

Almost five million people living in 32 Greater Sydney council areas will remain black-listed from Queensland but other NSW residents will be able to enter from November 3, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Friday.

The long-awaited border call, which comes a day out from the Queensland election, followed more cases of unlinked community transmission in NSW.

The status of the border will be reassessed at the end of November, which is due to create more uncertainty for people planning summer holidays or interstate family reunions at Christmas.

“Frankly, this is ridiculous,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said on Friday afternoon.

“Sydney is the biggest city in Australia and it probably has one of the best track records globally of managing a virus that is clearly going to be with us for a very long time.

“Keeping the doors bolted to places that you can’t reasonably call hot spots makes no sense from a health perspective and it’s doing a lot of social and economic damage as well.”

Mr Joyce warned Queensland’s tough stance on borders may simply drive Sydney holiday-makers to other places in Australia.

“Compare this to the far more rational approach of Tasmania, Northern Territory and South Australia,” he said.

“Queensland may find that by the time it does open up to Sydney, people have made other plans.”

Qantas and Jetstar had planned to increase flights by more than 1000 between Sydney and Queensland destinations if the Queensland border had opened to all of NSW, including Sydney.

Other business operators warned keeping almost five million Sydneysiders out of Queensland would be particularly devastating in the lead up to the crucial Christmas season.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce has hit out at the Queensland Government’s border decision on Friday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio BrancaleoneSource:News Corp Australia

“We will kill off the interstate Christmas season if we wait until November to make a decision,” Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive officer Daniel Gschwind told the Courier Mail.

“By then it will be far too late for people to make plans for the Christmas holidays with any confidence.

“That will be a blow for thousands of businesses and thousands of families who have already planned Queensland holidays.”

Mr Gschwind told 2GB he was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision.

“We need to review this daily or at least weekly now because if we want to have any hope of restoring some Christmas season for the interstate travel then we need decisions made very, soon,” he said.

Virgin Australia said its plan to reintroduce Queensland services relied on the state opening to all of NSW.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk delivers the border update on Friday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan PeledSource:News Corp Australia

“Today’s announcement by the Queensland Government is disappointing for many of our customers and team members who we know want to return to work, do business and reconnect with family and friends,” a Virgin Australia spokesman said.

“Our decision to reintroduce Queensland services which were suspended as part of our response to COVID-19 is reliant on the Greater Sydney region reopening to Queensland.”

The airline will still double its weekly flights between Brisbane and Newcastle, from three services a week to six, in light of today’s border change.

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has long urged her Queensland counterpart to drop border restrictions, said she was “disappointed” Queensland would continue to ban Sydneysiders.

“It’s extremely unfair and lacks logic and common sense to continue to lump NSW with Victoria – our states have taken very different paths,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (left) and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk have been at loggerheads over the state border for months.Source:Supplied

“We’ve demonstrated in NSW our capacity to be resilient, our capacity to get on top of outbreaks when they happen, but also our ability to push through with economic activity.”

Earlier, Queensland Airports chief executive officer Chris Mills said there had been large interest in flights from Sydney in anticipation of a November 1 border reopening.

He warned any delay in reopening Queensland could put the future of 3000 tourism businesses and 41,000 jobs at risk in the holiday hot spot of the Gold Coast.

“We have seen good bookings for the flights from Sydney scheduled next week, and the first flight on Sunday is almost full – to turn them away at short notice would be a real blow to the Gold Coast’s recovery,” Mr Mills told the Courier Mail.

“We don’t understand why we have to wait until two days before the potential opening to find out what is happening.

“Airlines need time to schedule flights, travellers need to book with confidence, and employers need to be able to roster staff accordingly.”

Accor Pacific boss Simon McGrath told the newspaper people “need certainty the borders will reopen before they will plan their holidays”.

“Confirmation of this will provide a vital lifeline to the many thousands of Queenslanders employed by tourism.”

Ms Palaszczuk, who faces re-election when Queenslanders head to the polls tomorrow, said she took advice from Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young in making the border decision.

“I kept my commitment, I’m honest to the people of Queensland … I’ve accepted her (Dr Young’s) recommendations to me, lock, stock and barrel,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We have always said as a National Cabinet that families can be reunited around Christmas time, but once again, anything can happen.”

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