Airways cancel lots of of Christmas Eve flights as Covid hits crews

A traveler wearing a protective mask waits to board a United Airlines flight at San Francisco International Airport on October 15, 2020.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Airlines canceled hundreds of Christmas Eve flights as Covid hit crews.

More than 2,000 flights have been canceled worldwide, including more than 500 US flights. United Airlines More than 170 major scheduled flights were canceled on Friday, roughly 9% of the flight schedule, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.

“This week’s nationwide surge in Omicron cases has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operations,” United said in a statement Thursday. “As a result, we unfortunately had to cancel some flights and inform affected customers in advance before they come to the airport.”

The disruption comes after airline executives said they await some of the busiest days since the pandemic began over the year-end holidays, despite the spike in Covid infections fueled by the Omicron variant. The Transportation Security Administration screened nearly 2.2 million people Thursday, up from 846,500 but fewer than 2.5 million who passed TSA checkpoints two years prior to the pandemic.

United said it is trying to rebook as many travelers as possible. She announced most of the cancellations the day before.

U.S. airline executives this week urged officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Relax quarantine guidelines for fully vaccinated people who tested positive for Covid, to five days from the current 10, citing potential staff shortages and flight disruptions. the CDC has relaxed its guidelines for health workers on Thursday.

Delta canceled more than 140 flights, or 7% of its Friday flight schedule, due to bad weather in Salt Lake City and Seattle, two of its hubs, and the impact of the rapidly expanding Omicron variant. Delta canceled more than 100 Saturday flights while United canceled about 70. JetBlue Airways More than 70 flights were canceled on Friday, about 7% of daily flight operations.

“Delta teams exhausted all options and resources – including rerouting and swapping planes and crews to cover scheduled flights – before canceling around 90 flights for Friday,” the airline said in a statement. “We apologize to our customers for the delay in their vacation travel plans. Delta employees are working hard to get them to their destination on the next available flight as quickly and safely as possible.”

More than 90% of Delta employees and more than 96% of United’s U.S. employees are vaccinated, the airlines said.

Delta and United’s flight disruptions are far fewer than those of the Bulk cancellations Some airline customers faced this summer and fall as airlines, including American and southwest grappling with staff shortages and bad weather.

Both airlines offered additional remuneration of the staff work Major Vacation Travel and attendance goals. Southwest only had one cancellation on Friday and American had 11, according to FlightAware.

Flights briefly halted after unintentional gun discharge at Atlanta airport, three accidents reported

Flight attendants wearing protective masks walk through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images

An accidental firing of a shot in the security control area of ​​the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Saturday afternoon resulted in all departing flights being temporarily halted.

The airport announced on Twitter that there was neither an active shooter nor a continuing threat to passengers or employees. Early reports suggest three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries following the incident, Atlanta police said.

“Officials have given the all-clear for #ATLAirport and normal operations are starting,” tweeted airport officials. Details of the incident were not disclosed.

The shot was fired during an airport security check, according to the latest TSA statement:

Around 1:30 p.m. [ET] Today a property search TSO at the main checkpoint of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) initiated a baggage search for a prohibited item identified by the x-ray. He advised the passenger not to touch the property, and when he opened the compartment with the prohibited item, the passenger threw himself in his pocket and grabbed a firearm which triggered it. The passenger then fled the area and ran out of the airport exit.

Various news outlets reported that witnesses said: Panic ensued after the shots in the airport’s domestic terminal. NBC partner WXIA of Atlanta reported that passengers got off planes to wait on the tarmac and around the terminals.

TSA officials discovered more than 450 firearms at Atlanta Airport checkpoints in 2021, officials said. So far this year, almost 4,500 firearms have been discovered at airport controls.

If firearms are discovered at U.S. airports, the TSA will impose a civil sanction that varies based on the number of offenses and whether the firearm has been loaded. The whole List of penalties is on TSA.gov. released.

Passengers can generally travel with firearms in their checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a locked hard case.

The incident occurred during what is expected to be the busiest vacation travel time since the pandemic began. The Transportation Security Administration said it was awaiting a review 20 million People between November 19 and 28, almost back to 2019 levels.

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American Airways cancels greater than 700 flights, citing climate and staffing points

An American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER takes off from Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia on October 28, 2020.

Loren Elliott | Reuters

American Airlines has canceled more than 1,000 flights since Friday, disruptions attributable to staffing problems and strong winds at its busiest hub.

On Saturday, American canceled nearly 460 flights, or 17% of the main flight schedule, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. based in Dallas Southwest Airlines Cut 86 flights or 2% of Saturday operations.

American has canceled another 285 flights, or 10% of its scheduled Sunday schedule, in addition to Friday’s 340 cancellations.

American COO David Seymour said in a staff note on Saturday that the problems began Thursday with strong gusts of wind reducing capacity at its Dallas / Fort Worth international airport hub and that the crew members were not in position for their next flights was.

The availability of pilots and flight attendants was cited as the reason for most of the cancellations on Saturday and Sunday, according to internal balance sheets viewed by CNBC.

“With additional weather throughout the system, our staff is running out as the crew members leave their regular flight sequences,” wrote Seymour. He said most customers were rebooked the same day and he expects operations to stabilize in November.

Airlines have faced staff shortages that have resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations and other disruptions since travel demand soared in late spring. The airlines had convinced thousands of employees to accept voluntary takeovers or leave of absence to reduce their wage bills in the depths of the pandemic.

Now they are trying to recruit staff, hire pilots, flight attendants, ramp and customer service agents and others. Leaner staffing levels make it harder for airlines to recover from disruptions such as bad weather or technology issues.

Southwest said earlier this month that there was a meltdown earlier this month that saw more than 2,000 flights canceled it cost $ 75 million. It also said it would further cut its remaining 2021 schedule after previous cuts to avoid further disruption.

American Airlines’ Seymour said 1,800 flight attendants would be returning from vacation as of November 1, and the rest would be back by December. It also means hiring pilots, mechanics, airport staff and reservation agents “so that more team members will be on site for the holiday season”.

Southwest Airways cancels 1,800 flights, blaming climate and staffing

Southwest Airlines This weekend, more than 1,800 flights were canceled, thousands of customers’ travel plans mixed up and flight crews stranded.

“I know this is incredibly difficult for all of you, and our customers are not happy,” said Alan Kasher, executive vice president of Daily Flight Operations, in a statement on Sunday viewed by CNBC.

The airline blamed bad weather and an “FAA-imposed air traffic management program” for the initial problems.

“Although we were staffed for the weekend, we could not foresee the significant disruption caused by unexpected ATC problems and bad weather at our Florida stations,” said Kasher.

Other airlines have canceled relatively few flights. Southwest did not comment on the inequality.

The Federal Aviation Administration said there were “several hours” of flight delays on Friday afternoon due to severe weather and staffing problems at the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center, which controls the airspace in five parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina.

“No staff shortages have been reported to the FAA in air traffic since Friday,” said the FAA. “Some airlines continue to have scheduling problems due to out of seat aircraft and crews. Please contact the airlines for details on current flight schedules.”

Southwest’s top destinations, Denver, Baltimore, Dallas Love Field and Chicago Midway, were hardest hit by Sunday’s cancellations.

Southwest apologized to travelers for long customer service waits. The airline said in a statement that it is expected to get close to normal operations by Sunday, but disruptions worsened.

Southwest’s Kasher admitted to staff in his note on Sunday that some crew members were out of hotel rooms last night and said disruptions can arise quickly when flight crews reach contractual and state working limits.

“Right now is ours [network operations center] The teams are working to protect our crew network and prevent bad connections – both for our crews and for our customers – that would have an even bigger impact, ”he said. “And the teams are working to determine the best course of action to be the quickest way to reset our network. “

The Dallas-based airline canceled 1,019 flights on Sunday, 28% of its schedule, after canceling 808 flights on Saturday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. American Airlines, which operates a major hub in Miami, has canceled 66 mainline flights, or 2% of its operations on Saturday and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by comparison Spirit Airlines 32 flights canceled, 4% of the flight plan.

Staff shortages resulted in hundreds of cancellations at Southwest this summer. the The airline has cut its flight schedule after the summer to avoid further disturbances. Other airlines have also faced labor shortages after encouraging thousands to take or buy vacations at the height of the pandemic, only to have travel demand return faster than expected this summer.

“Although we made changes to the timetable by autumn, our route system has not fully recovered – that will take time,” said Kasher. He said the airline had fewer frequencies between major airports to reroute or rebook travelers. Southwest doesn’t have what is called the interline arrangement that major airlines like delta and American Travelers have to book with other airlines.

Southwest did not immediately comment on whether staffing shortages contributed to the cancellations this weekend.

The airline is struggling to hire new employees. New CEO Bob Jordan told CNBC last month that the airline was ready to cut flights during the spring break if it doesn’t have enough staff to support the operation.

The inequality between the operations of Southwest and other airlines fueled speculation on social media that employees called in sick, with some suspecting it was in protest of the vaccine mandate.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, the Southwest pilots union, said, “We can say with confidence that our pilots are not participating in any formal or unofficial work-related activities.”

“Our pilots will continue to overcome poor planning by SWA management as well as any external operational challenges and remain the most productive pilots in the world,” it said.

Earlier on Saturday, the union noted that the company’s recent announcement that it would comply with the Biden government’s requirement that federal contractors commission Covid vaccinations for employees is adding to the distraction for airmen.

“Make no mistake – due to months of personnel problems and inefficient planning practices, we are working with a higher than normal operational risk,” the union’s safety committee told members in a post on Saturday.

It is said that reports of fatigue requiring pilots not to fly are triple historical norms.

“All of these challenges created an additional distraction in the cockpit,” it said. “The company’s announcement this week of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate only exacerbates the situation.”

On Friday, the union asked a federal court in Dallas to temporarily block implementation of the vaccine mandate as it was a unilateral decision and required negotiations with the union instead.

Australia Qantas getting ready for worldwide flights from December, CEO says

Australian airline Qantas expects international flights to the US, UK and parts of Asia to resume by Christmas, CEO Alan Joyce said Thursday.

Since March last year it is Australia has closed its borders for most foreign visitors and Exit ban for residents unless they had valid reasons.

“We know there is tremendous demand. People don’t want another Christmas isolated from their families, let alone internationally, however [also] in Australia, “Joyce said on CNBCs”Squawk Box Asia. “

An increase in local Covid-19 cases in recent months forced the Australian states and territories to tighten restrictions, including Interstate Travel Restrictions and advice on staying at home in risk areas.

Joyce said Qantas plans its operations on the assumption that Australia’s two most populous states – New South Wales and Victoria – will lift most of their border restrictions to the rest of the country by December 1.

This would be followed by the assumption that international border restrictions will be relaxed if more Australians are vaccinated. “And by Christmas, markets like Singapore, Great Britain, Japan and the USA will also open …” he added.

Qantas has not killed any passengers since the beginning of the “jet era” in the 1950s.

Scott Barbour | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Vaccines are crucial

Australia’s vaccination rates are also rising after a slow rollout at the beginning.

Information compiled by the online publication Our World In Data showed that almost 25% of the population were fully vaccinated as of August 24, compared with just under 6% at the end of June. Australian government data showed that on Wednesday 32.3% of people over 16 – or around 6.6 million people – were fully vaccinated.

The Australian Government wants to fully vaccinate between 70% and 80% of its population before international border restrictions are relaxed. This means that gradually international entries and exits to and from so-called “safe” countries will be allowed and the requirements for fully vaccinated visitors coming to Australia will be reduced.

“The government has said they think this is a sensible plan. They don’t have a crystal ball but they think this is likely to happen, ”Joyce said, adding that he expects Qantas to fire out of all cylinders after the borders reopen.

Qantas does not expect international routes to countries with lower vaccination rates – such as Indonesia, South Africa or the Philippines – to begin until April next year at the earliest.

No more layoffs

Like most airlines and travel companies around the world, Qantas took a hit when the coronavirus pandemic resulted in an almost complete collapse in demand for air travel.

As part of restructuring efforts last year, the airline had to lay off nearly 10,000 people out of a total workforce of around 32,000 before the pandemic, Joyce told CNBC.

We believe that is all it takes [layoffs] because the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Alan Joyce

Managing Director, Qantas

“It was heartbreaking to see a lot of great people leaving, but it was necessary to restructure the business so it could recover from Covid,” he said.

“We believe it is no longer necessary because the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel,” he added when asked if Qantas could possibly fire more people.

Yet more than 8,000 Qantas employees, mostly from international operations, have been laid off – that is, as long as they remain employed, they will not be paid until operations resume.

Merits

The airline reported earnings on Thursday for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

  • Statutory after-tax loss of 1.73 billion Australian dollars (1.25 billion US dollars) was lower than the previous year’s reported loss of 1.96 billion Australian dollars.
  • Consolidated sales were A $ 5.93 billion, 58% less than last year.

Qantas stock rose 3.29% on the back of earnings reports on Thursday.

Joyce told CNBC that Qantas expects to lose A $ 20 billion in revenue by the end of this year due to the pandemic.

U.S. weighs ordering industrial airways to supply flights for Afghanistan evacuation efforts

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Army soldiers assigned to patrol the 82nd Airborne Division at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 17, 2021. Image taken on August 17, 2021.

US Air Force | Reuters

The Biden administration has told US commercial airlines that it could order them to help evacuate Afghanistan, according to someone familiar with the matter.

The Department of Defense informed several of the country’s major commercial airlines late Friday that it could activate the civil reserve air fleet to bolster the airlift, the person said, adding that the flights will be from other locations rather than from Afghanistan itself would. This could include airmen stranded on U.S. bases in Germany, Qatar and Bahrain, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first covered the news.

The almost 70-year-old Civil Reserve Air Fleet program was launched after the Berlin Airlift to support a “major national defense emergency”. Reasons are humanitarian or natural disasters and war.

The White House and the Department of Defense did not respond immediately.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan announced by Biden earlier this year has been ravaged by chaos. Thousands of people poured into Kabul airport after the Taliban took over the city and secured control of the country last week.

US Defense officials say the military is looking for alternative ways to get Americans, Afghans and third-country nationals safely to the airport in Kabul following threats from the Islamic State. NBC News reports Saturday.

The US embassy in Afghanistan on Saturday warned US citizens should not travel to the airport “because of possible security threats at the gates of Kabul airport”.

A White House official told the press pool on Saturday that six U.S. military C-17s and 32 charter planes had left Kabul in the past 24 hours. The total number of passengers for these 38 flights is approximately 3,800. The White House official says the US has evacuated approximately 17,000 people since Aug. 14.

Several U.S. airlines volunteered earlier this week to help airlift evacuees, the person told CNBC.

The tender for the so-called CRAF flights was opened on Saturday and would be closed on Monday United Airlines Flight attendants, their union, the Association of Flight Attendants, wrote in a memo.

“In order for United to be prepared in the event that the US Department of Defense announces that United Airlines CRAF has been activated, offers for CRAF operations must be made immediately and over a very short period of time,” the statement said.

Spirit Airways cancels half its flights to ‘reboot’ operation

Spirit Airlines canceled half of its flights on Wednesday to “restart” operations after a wave of disruptions that began over the weekend due to a mixture of bad weather, staff shortages and technology issues.

Spirit has canceled more than 1,000 flights since Sunday and hundreds more have been delayed.

Angry customers complained on social media about the cancellations and the difficulty of reaching customer service agents. Some tweeted images of long lines at airports and travelers lying on the ground near gates.

The chaos is a great test for the executives at Spirit who have worked over the past few years to improve the airline “s reliability and customer service.

Spirit said the disruption was “exacerbated” by the surge in summer travel that was drifting away from the Coronavirus pandemic faster than expected by the airlines. Fuller flights mean fewer opportunities to rebook guests, the airline said.

“The past three days have been extremely difficult for our guests and team members, and we sincerely apologize for that,” Spirit said in a statement.

More than 340 flights, half of the daily flight schedule, were canceled on Wednesday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

Airlines sometimes clean large numbers of flights to avoid further disruption and to get staff and planes to the right place to resume flights.

Spirit said it expects cancellations to “gradually decrease” in the coming days.

American Airlines Hundreds of flights were also canceled this week after hours of storms of high winds, lightning and hail struck Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport, its largest hub.

On Wednesday, American operations stabilized with about 100 cancellations, about 3% of the daily schedule, versus 12% of canceled flights on Tuesday.

Spirit said it would learn from the meltdown.

“By delving deeply into the challenges we face, we have identified opportunities for improvement that will help us operate a more resilient network and better serve our guests,” said a statement.

Thunderstorms hampered Spirit’s efforts to recalibrate Wednesday. Gate and taxi delays at Spirit’s main base in Fort Lauderdale, Florida exceeded an hour, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

American Airways, Spirit Airways cancel a whole bunch of flights

American Airlines aircraft stand at the passenger gates at Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) near Dallas, Texas.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

American Airlines Passengers have faced hundreds of cancellations and delays since Sunday as the airline struggles to recover from disruption caused by severe thunderstorms that swept through its Dallas / Fort Worth international hub.

According to flight tracking site FlightAware, more than 270 flights – or 9% of America’s main flight schedule – had been canceled by Tuesday morning. At least 120 of the cancellations were due to a lack of flight crew, according to an internal list reviewed by CNBC.

The Americans canceled around 850 flights between the Sunday when the thunderstorm hit and Monday. Almost 2,000 were delayed. Around 80 American flights were diverted to other airports on Sunday.

Travelers complained on social media of difficulty reaching customer service agents and extensive delays.

“Mother Nature is not playing well and many flights in and out of DFW are delayed or canceled,” American Airlines tweeted to a customer on Sunday.

Before hurricanes and snowstorms occur, airlines will often cancel thousands of flights to avoid passengers and crews getting stranded at airports. Thunderstorms can be disruptive to passengers and airlines alike, as they often result in rolling delays because they are less predictable.

In addition, airlines are struggling to find staff to cope with the surge in travel demand urging Employees in the pandemic took buyouts or leave of absence in the past year to reduce labor costs.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 2.24 million people on Sunday, most since February 28, 2020.

An American Airlines spokeswoman said Monday the weather and air traffic restrictions caused the delays at DFW.

American had cut about 1% of its schedule for the first half of July to deal with weather and other disruptions, as well as staffing issues.

But the carrier has restored more capacity than some of its competitors like United Airlines and Delta Airlines.

“And we expect to fly a larger domestic network with DFW in August this year than in August 2019,” said American President Robert Isom in a quarterly call last month.

More capacity leaves little room for error in the event of malfunctions, analysts told CNBC.

According to the Ministry of Transport, airlines are not required to provide hotel accommodation or meal vouchers to travelers whose flights have been canceled.

“Passengers understand that airlines don’t control the weather, but what makes a good airline is how they treat passengers when the chips are down,” said Henry Harteveldt, founder of travel industry consultancy Atmosphere Research Group and a former airline manager .

More than 1,100 Southwest Airlines Flights, nearly a third of the Dallas-based airline’s schedule, were postponed Monday while 44 were canceled. The airline said Sunday’s thunderstorms triggered Monday’s cancellations.

Spirit Airlines“Problems continued on Tuesday. According to FlightAware, 38% of the flight schedule or 258 flights have been canceled, in addition to about 500 flights between Sunday and Monday.

A spokesman for the low-cost airline said Monday the disruptions were due to “operational challenges” caused by the weather. Airlines will often cancel flights to get the crews in place rather than continuing to delay flights.

“We are working around the clock to get back on track after a few travel interruptions at the weekend due to a number of operational challenges,” the airline said in a statement. “We understand how frustrating it is for our guests when plans change unexpectedly, and we are working to find solutions. We ask guests to actively monitor their emails and flight status before heading to the airport.”

American Airways cancels flights as a consequence of staffing, upkeep points

American Airlines planes at LaGuardia Airport

Leslie Josephs | CNBC

American Airlines said it canceled hundreds of flights this weekend due to staff shortages, maintenance and other issues, challenges for the airline as travel demand rises to pre-pandemic levels.

According to flight tracking site FlightAware, about 6% of the airline’s main flight schedule or 180 flights were canceled on Sunday. The airline said this represented about 3% of its total flights, including those operated by regional airlines. About half of them because of unavailable flight crews, showed a company list that was viewed by CNBC. About 4% or 123 flights were canceled on Saturday, the website showed.

American said it was cutting its overall plan by about 1% by mid-July to alleviate some of the disruption, some of which was due to bad weather at the hubs of Charlotte International Airport and Dallas / Fort Worth in the first half of June.

“The bad weather, combined with the labor shortage that some of our suppliers are struggling with, and the incredibly rapid rise in customer demand, has led us to make our operations even more resilient and safer by cutting a fraction of our planned flight times by mid- July, “American Airlines spokeswoman Sarah Jantz said in a statement. “We have made targeted changes with the aim of influencing the least possible number of customers by adjusting flights in markets where we have multiple options for rebooking.”

Bad weather has adversely affected flight crews’ ability to get to assigned flights, and bad weather can cause crews to drop outside of working hours they are allowed to work at the federal level, the spokeswoman said.

Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents the roughly 15,000 American pilots, said the company should offer more overtime upfront to encourage staff to fill out, as well as more flexibility in pilot plans to cover staff shortages.

“You’re trying to put a plaster on something that needs sewing,” said Tajer, who is also the captain of a Boeing 737.

American is also rushing to train any pilots it has taken on leave between two state aid packages that prohibited layoffs, as well as its Airmen due for regular recurring training. Jantz said American is well on its way to completing the training of pilots on leave by the end of this month, adding that the company is offering overtime due to its operational issues.

Delta Airlines canceled more than 300 flights last Thanksgiving weekend and many others during the holiday season a Lack of pilots.

The weekend disruption previously reported on the airline’s View from the Wing blog comes just as airlines are trying to capture spikes in travel demand and curb record losses. American said in a filing earlier this month that capacity will decline 20 to 25% in the second quarter from 2019 while United Airlines said it expected its capacity to decrease by about 46% and delta forecast a decrease of 32% compared to 2019. Southwest Airlines predict July capacity will lag just 3% from 2019, down from a 7% decline this month.

Name for medevac-style repatriation flights for Australians with Covid from India | Australia information

Public health experts say Australian citizens who test positive for Covid-19 in India should be considered a medical evacuation and allowed to return home.

It comes, as Qantas says, it’s investigating suggestions that quick tests done at the departure gate could have produced some false positives, other than preventing people who haven’t had the virus from returning home.

42 of the 150 people booked on the first return flight, which landed in Darwin on Saturday, were No flight after testing positive either in PCR tests in the days before departure or in rapid antigen tests at the gate, and 30 more were blocked as their close contacts. About 80 people made the flight and are quarantined in Howard Springs.

Prof. Catherine Bennett, Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University, said that for many Australians in India who may be elderly or have comorbidities, repatriation is not a borderline problem but a health emergency.

“This is more like Medevac than a border strategy and we have to treat it like Medevac,” she said.

“We have to change our thinking from returnees to medical evacuation. These are people who, if they needed medical care, would do much, much better in Australia than they did in India. “

That meant configuring a policy based not on the perceived risk to Australia but on the needs of Australians overseas.

The prime minister said Sunday that it “makes no sense” to allow people who test positive to return to Australia.

“I don’t think people are wrongly blocked,” Scott Morrison told reporters at Gladstone. “In this case, in some cases, we have the other side of the coin where people who tested positive may not have been positive.

“But when it comes to protecting the health and safety of Australians here, we will be careful. I know which side of the line to be careful on. “

Morrison said the government was not considering allowing people who tested positive to board flights.

“I’ve seen suggestions from others who seem to believe that we can get people who have tested Covid-positive on airplanes and take them to Australia,” he said. “I mean, that just doesn’t make sense.

“We all want to support the people as best we can, but by importing Covid into the country, I don’t think it’s a very sensible or sensible thing to do.”

Bennett said there could be limits to Australia’s capacity to accept Covid-positive returnees who would be accommodated in medical hotels that are not the ordinary hotel quarantine system.

But she said that where there is capacity, Australia should operate specialty flights with vaccinated flight crews.

Australia introduced a mandatory requirement in January that all international arrivals must return a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure.

Bennett said testing negative from a PCR test, and especially a rapid antigen test before the flight, was not a guarantee that a traveler would not rest positive upon landing in Australia.

Associate Professor Hassan Vally, an epidemiologist from La Trobe University, said it was a “moral and ethical question” allowing Australians in India to return home, rather than risk.

“The health system in India is either about to collapse or has collapsed,” he said. “You They don’t have enough oxygen to support the patient Who would almost certainly survive if in a western country? “

Vally said the options put forward by the government that Australia would either close its borders and be safe or allow people to return and risk a massive outbreak were a false dichotomy. Vaccination of key frontline workers and elderly carers, of which 85% was exceeded last week, according to the federal government, reduced the risk.

“The problem with the current policy of bringing people back from India is bringing people home, which is considered an unacceptable risk for the rest of Australia as our risk threshold [from Covid-19] is basically zero, ”said Vally.

“But if we don’t have risk tolerance, we will be isolated from the rest of the world for the next two to three years, while everyone else will go back to normal.”