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Airlines were already struggling to operate long-haul flights to Australia with 50-60 passengers onboard; with the reduced caps beginning in mid-July, they will have no choice but to raise fares or cease operations.
Airlines serving routes into Australia, particularly those from London or Dubai, have been warned not to overcharge stranded residents attempting to return home.
After Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced last Friday that Australia will temporarily reduce its intake of international passengers by 50 per cent from July 14 from 6000 per week to just 3000, there are concerns some carriers could bump up fares significantly or stop passenger flights to Australia altogether.
A recent search from London to Sydney on popular booking platforms revealed that ticket prices jumped from as little as A$5229 for a one-way economy ticket to A$36,499 just days later in July.
The decrease in inbound passengers is in response to Australia’s current battle against the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19, and it is a welcome step towards relieving pressure on quarantine facilities across the country.
The passenger cap change will have a significant impact on the approximately 34,000 Australians who are still waiting to return home from overseas, with some fearing that the reduced intake will only force prices to skyrocket to unaffordable levels.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has since warned airlines not to take advantage of the new passenger limits in order to profit from those desperate to return home.
“I hope there is nobody who seeks a commercial advantage from difficult circumstances and that’s a strong, clear message,” he said on Saturday.
The flight prices for some airlines have soared, so this flight from London to Sydney via Los Angeles is more than A$26,000 per person.
Emirates suspended many of their international flights into and out of Australia earlier this year, citing “operational reasons.” The flights were resumed a few days later, but the suspension occurred at the same time in January that Australia’s international arrival caps were reduced by nearly half.
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