International crew hungry in overnight hotels – Australian Aviation
The industry body representing international airlines has said the new quarantine arrangements for overnight crews in Australia are “chaotic” and result in staff arriving at hotels without being able to eat a meal.
The Australian Airlines Representatives Council (BARA) has also hinted that these “operational challenges” as well as “staggering costs” mean that airlines may soon be withdrawing from flights repatriating Australians.
It comes after NSW and many other states changed the rules in January to require international crews to quarantine themselves at state-run hotels and take a COVID test at the airport. Previously, airlines could organize their own transport and accommodation, as long as the details were shared with the authorities.
Rules for international crews were introduced after NSW police fined 13 crew members $ 1,000 each for allegedly visiting local businesses.
In a new statement, BARA said that while it understands the importance of Australia’s COVID measures, the implementation of the quarantine has led to “chaotic results” for airlines, passengers and staff .
“BARA has seen a number of concerns raised about the pressure it is placing on the mental health and well-being of staff involved in hotel quarantine,” the organization said.
“At the operational level, airlines continue to raise concerns about the organization and provision of crew arrangements. They include delays at the airport and late arrivals at hotels, with the hotel operator sometimes unable to provide meals.
“The effectiveness of safe flight operations must be supported by a well-rested crew, basic food arrangements and efficient travel between the airport and the crew’s hotels.
“When crew testing was introduced it created problems for airlines due to the lack of clear guidelines on what a state health authority would do to an airline crew member. who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in Australia. BARA continues to see reports of a lack of adequate testing capacity at airports, resulting in ongoing delays and problems for all staff involved in hotel quarantine.
“A holistic approach to supporting the commercial viability of a minimum flight network and the well-being of staff is needed as industry participants face what is one of the most difficult times of the pandemic. nowadays.”
BARA also hinted that increasingly difficult conditions, exacerbated by arrival ceilings that limit the number of passengers allowed on inbound flights, meant that many were threatening to stop flying.
“A number of members told BARA that they could not continue to operate passenger flights under such poor commercial and operational conditions,” he said.
“Australian and state governments must decide whether they wish to maintain a minimum international network and level of commercial viability for airlines.”
He continued that many costs incurred by airlines are billed on the weight of aircraft and distance flown, which means that the actual costs per passenger have increased by up to 600%.
“Large cost backlogs are building up at airports as delays in travel bubbles continue to remove available passenger volumes to recover costs incurred. Members reported to BARA that a number of airport operators have given some relief to rents for staff offices and passenger lounges, which is appreciated, ”BARA said.
However, they also report that an airport operator has consistently requested rent increases of between 10 and 40 percent, highlighting the differences in attitude towards international airlines. State governments are now providing from quarantine hotels to crews and transport, the costs transferred are often much higher than those previously negotiated directly by airlines.
“This highlights the number of cost increases beyond the control of airlines, and an assumption that these costs will be borne by airlines.”
In November, BARA said most airlines had stopped selling tickets to Australians stranded “months ago” because of the country’s international arrival caps.
The organization added that official waiting lists do not give a full picture of the number of Australians stranded abroad. He previously estimated the actual figure at 100,000.
NSW currently hosts the vast majority of returning citizens, with Sydney quarantine hotels now accepting 3,000 entrants per week. The second highest is Queensland, with 1,000.
The developments come after Australia’s February arrival ceilings returned to their previously higher December 2020 levels, which were reduced in early 2021 following a second COVID cluster in Sydney.
The temporary January cuts were part of the biggest overhaul of the quarantine program since its inception, and also included a provision allowing passengers to wear masks on all domestic and international flights; for hotel staff to be tested daily and for expats to demand a negative result before boarding a repatriation flight.
Arrival ceilings were introduced in July and stood at 4,000, before increasing to 6,500 at the end of 2020, then falling to just over 4,000 in January 2021.
This week, Victoria also confirmed that she will restart her program and initially accept 800 passengers per week.