One-way fares from the UK to Australia have risen to as much as $38,000 per seat despite the health minister warning airlines not to hike up ticket prices due to the halving of international arrival limits.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt issued a ‘strong, clear message’ on Saturday that airlines should not take advantage of the approximately 34,000 Australians overseas who are wanting to return home.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday international passenger arrivals would be tightened from 6,070 a week to 3,035 by July 14.
A Perth woman told EuroJournal Australia flights to the US were already triple the usual price.
Greg Hunt warned airlines not to hike up airfares for Aussies wanting to come home – but his words appear to have fallen on deaf ears with tickets from many locations where Australian expats are stuck costing thousands more than usual
‘I’ve been flying back and forth from the US to Perth for 30 years and I’ve never paid more than $4,000,’ said Sahra Singer, who is now in Michigan.
‘In February I paid $9,000 and May I paid $12,000. Both times I flew Perth was locked down with caps in place and there were 19 other people on my flight.’
A Melbourne family stuck in the UK was quoted an extraordinary £59,000 ($108,000) on June 26 for three economy seats to return home in June.
The mother of the family, who did not want to be named, received the quote for two adults and one child for a flight from London Heathrow on August 4.
Perth’s Sahra Singer, now in Michigan, says the cost of flights between the United States and Australia is three times higher now than in pre-Covid times
A Melbourne family in London was quoted over $108,000 for three seats to return home in June, for two adults and one child
‘I hope that nobody takes any advantage of this situation,’ Mr Hunt said on Saturday.
‘These are difficult and challenging times. We do have support programs for Australian overseas in extremis but I hope that there is nobody who seeks a commercial advantage from difficult circumstances and that’s a strong clear message.’
An Australian man in Lebanon, who did not want to be named, said he had received a quote of US$44,000 (A$58,000) to fly home on August 16.
Hunt said a reduction in commercial arrivals would be balanced by an increase in ‘facilitated arrivals’ – passengers landing in the Northern Territory who would be moved to 14 days ‘mandatory supervised quarantine’ at the Howard Springs facility.
Most flights from New York to back to Australia will set you back at least $12,000
‘We know that some of those flights have in fact been under-subscribed in recent weeks so there is that capacity to bring additional Australians home via Howard Springs.’
In the social media group Australians Stuck Around the World, which has 12,000 members, angered expats vented their anger at the price increases.
‘You think US airlines are going to listen to Greg Hunt?’ one man asked.
A flight from New Delhi at the same time ranges between $8,000 and $34,000
‘How about Greg Hunt and his Government tell Qantas, who have been given hundreds of millions of dollars, to … fly Australians home at reasonable price, instead of telling a foreign company what to do.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week announced a four-stage ‘transition to living with Covid, including caps on flight arrivals.
The first stage halving the number of arrivals into the country to 3,035 a week until August 31 to help keep out the highly contagious Delta strain.
The Northern Territory facility (pictured), which currently takes 850 arrivals a fortnight, will take 2,000 travellers every two weeks by May
Coming back from Tokyo on August 1 could set you back only $5,000 or as much as $38,000
What are the four phases of opening up?
1. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week until August 31; lockdowns and state border closures as a last resort; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
2. Post vaccination phase (when an as-yet unannounced percentage of Aussies are jabbed, expected early next year)
No lockdowns or state borders except for ‘extreme circumstances’; caps for unvaccinated arrivals doubled to 6,070; home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
3. Consolidation phase (date not announced)
Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; vaccinated people exempted from domestic restrictions; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
4. Final phase (date not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival