Stranded Australians may be offered seats on additional government-facilitated flights to send as many homes by Christmas as feasible in the coming months.
Since a cap on new international entrants was tightened, the number of individuals registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wanting to return to Australia has risen to 45,000.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that returning people home by Christmas is a priority. The country must first hit the double-dose vaccination milestone of 80%.
“Once we get 80% vaccination coverage, Australians will be permitted to go to those states that are opening up,” Mr Morrison said in Washington.
“They will be able to board planes, fly overseas and back.”
This means that Australians who are abroad and have been vaccinated with vaccines recognised in Australia will be permitted to board airlines and go to Australia.”
Mr Morrison stated that he expects commercial airlines to enhance service when demand increases. He is happy to organise more government-facilitated flights if necessary.
“We’ve been doing commercial flights, but if more is required, we’ll do more,” he said.
Mr Morrison’s promise of Christmas reunions is also contingent on all states adhering to the national plan for avoiding a coronavirus epidemic.
With Queensland and Western Australia refusing calls to reopen, it’s unclear whether families in all states would be reunited in time for the holiday season.
Penny Wong, the Shadow Foreign Minister, stated that Australians living abroad had heard these promises before.
“Remember, the Prime Minister told Australians they’d be home by Christmas,” Ms Wong pointed out.
“That was Christmas last year.” We now have more stranded passengers than when he made that pledge.”