Airlines beg for passenger calm
Australia's major airlines are scrambling to adjust their schedules as passenger change fights amid a coronavirus outbreak that has Sydney's Northern Beaches region exiled from many parts of the nation.
So far 28 cases have been detected across Sydney's Northern Beaches with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian telling residents on Friday to brace themselves for the number of COVID-19 diagnoses to increase.
Queensland has declared Sydney's Northern Beaches a hotspot while WA has implemented self-quarantine measures for NSW arrivals. Victoria has also reintroduced a permit system for NSW travellers, and said northern beaches residents and visitors would not be eligible.
A Qantas representative said they will be contacting passengers affected by the border changes although they are already being inundated with calls.
They have asked passengers to not contact their call centre which is being placed under pressure.
"We are seeing a high level of inquiry from customers in Sydney looking to change their travel plans, so we'd ask anyone not travelling in the next 14 days to please avoid calling our contact centre to help us manage these volumes," they said.
"Customers can manage their booking directly via qantas.com and jetstar.com or via the Qantas app."
Virgin Australia has already started making changes to its schedule as it meets the demand of those wanting to return from Sydney to avoid quarantine.
A Virgin Australia spokesman said their scheduling changes would be flexible to deal with passengers, either wanting leave Sydney or return from interstate.
"While New South Wales services are currently operating as normal, changes to customer demand and booking trends may require us to adjust our forward schedule," the spokesman said.
"Any impacted customers will be provided with options to re-book on alternative services or be able obtain a travel credit for use at a later stage."
One new case in Queensland involved a woman from Sydney's Northern Beaches, said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
"We are on high alert," she told reporters on Friday.
Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young has instructed any Queenslanders who had been to the Northern Beaches since December 11 to isolate at home for 14 days and come forward for testing.
"From midday tomorrow, anyone who has been in the Northern Beaches region in NSW since December 11 2020 will not be able to visit Queensland residential aged care centres, hospitals or correctional facilities," Dr Young said.
Originally published as Airlines beg for passenger calm