The head of Australia’s national carrier is “hopeful” Queensland will relax its border restrictions with NSW and Victoria by the end of this month.
Alan Joyce was speaking on Monday after restrictions between NSW and Victoria came down for the first time in four months, allowing unrestricted travel between the two states.
“I am hopeful that at the end of this month Queensland will open up,” he told ABC radio.
“The inconsistency around this (border restrictions) is causing concern.”
NSW is now the only state in Australia without hard borders. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has championed her state as Australia’s only jurisdiction that now “welcomes everyone”.
Queensland continues to maintain border restrictions for NSW and Victoria, ahead of a review later in November.
Qantas and Jetstar are operating 17 return flights between Sydney and Melbourne on Monday, carrying around 4500 passengers.
Virgin Australia will operate four return services per day, or 28 per week, between Melbourne and Sydney and plans to progressively increase flight frequency ahead of the Christmas holidays.
Mr Joyce also expects Qantas could return to 60 per cent of its pre-coronavirus domestic capacity, depending on what happens with the Queensland and West Australian borders, by Christmas.
But it was also imperative that travel restrictions ease across the country so people can travel to see family, he said.
“I want to see all Australians around the country being able to get together for Christmas and I think psychologically and socially that is a very important thing,” he later told the Nine Network.
Flight Centre chief executive Graham Turner said the borders that have come down need to stay down, and other states should follow the example of NSW.
“We need all the borders opened and we need them to stay open, even if the infection comes back because we know there are going to be more infections,” he told the Nine Network.
“It’s just a matter of us living with it and handling them, which most states seem to be able to do now.”
On international flights, Mr Joyce said his base case was for overseas travel to resume in June or July next year, depending on the availability of a coronavirus vaccine.
“There is a lot of pent up demand out there,” he said.