NSW Vic border: Reopening boosts flights between Sydney and Melbourne

Following the announcement that NSW will reopen state borders with Victoria, airlines have been given a much needed lifeline to get more wings back in the air.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday that her state’s border with the southern state will reopen on November 23, allowing residents to freely travel between the states without quarantining.

In response, both Qantas and Jetstar announced they will operate more than 250 flights a week on five routes.

The closure of travel between both states has been a huge blow to the aviation industry, given the air corridor between Sydney and Melbourne was one of the busiest in the world pre-pandemic.

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Qantas will launch more flights from November 23 as the NSW/Victoria border plans to reopen. Picture: Daniel Slim/AFPSource:AFP

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In three weeks’ time, Qantas will increase their weekly return flights between Melbourne and Sydney to 75, while Jetstar will have 42 flights going between both cities. Currently overall, there are just 10 return flights per week operating between Melbourne and Sydney.

Virgin Australia will operate four return services per day between Sydney and Melbourne, and intend to increase ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce has previously slammed domestic border closures, calling for a set of national rules to guide when state borders can reopen based on COVID-19 case numbers. Mr Joyce has previously commented on several Premiers’ decisions on closures to be driven more by politics than medical evidence.

Speaking on Sydney’s radio 2GB on Monday, Mr Joyce said the ongoing border closure between Queensland and Greater Sydney was “extremely frustrating” and that the hard border was causing economic and social damage.

“What gets me is this is obviously popular. She’s (Annastacia Palaszczuk) won the election and congratulations to the Premier. But sometimes the popular decision is not the right decision and there’s a lot of factors going into this that clearly are not going into it,” Mr Joyce said.

“We have a very different position across the country.”

Jetstar will also increase flights between Melbourne and Sydney, which was Australia’s busiest route prior to the pandemic. Picture: Gaye Gerard/NCA NewswireSource:News Corp Australia

The Qantas Group, who launched a petition to “safely open borders” has received 65,000 signatures for Premiers to open up domestic barriers around the country.

Border closures have decimated pre-pandemic domestic flight figures, with the Qantas Group’s overall domestic flight fleet sitting at just 30 per cent per cent of pre-COVID levels. The airline says that will increase to just under 40 per cent from late November, with more aircraft ‘woken up’ and more employees returning to work to support the additional flying.

Qantas Domestic & International CEO, Andrew David said the opening of the border between NSW and Victoria was “fantastic news” and a step towards an economic recovery for the battered tourism and aviation industry.

Virgin Australia plan to have around 20,000 seats between Sydney and Melbourne by Christmas. Picture: Christian Gilles/NCA NewswireSource:News Corp Australia

“Pre-COVID, Melbourne-Sydney was the busiest air route in Australia and the second busiest in the world. On a busy day, Qantas and Jetstar would operate more than 100 flights per day between New South Wales and Victoria,” he said in a statement.

“During the lockdown, our schedule reduced to as low as one flight a day.

“When you consider the social and economic impact of border closures, we’ve always said things should open up as soon as it’s safe to do so. New South Wales has led the way in taking a sensible, risk-based approach to borders that’s supported by what is probably one of the best contact tracing programs in the world.

“It’s great to see New South Wales and Victoria working together on what is a national issue. Queensland and Western Australia are unfortunately taking a different approach, which doesn’t seem based on a realistic assessment of risk.”

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