Asia Minute: Thousands of Australians Still Stuck Overseas

Oct 23, 2020

Hawaii is approaching its first weekend of the pre-travel testing program, and the state has already seen a bump in arriving passengers. But elsewhere in the world, there are some further complications when it comes to air travel — including Australia.

More than 30,000 Australians are stuck outside their country — waiting to return home. That figure was given in testimony to an Australian Senate committee hearing this week.

There are limits to the number of Australians who can return to the country.

Back in July, the government put a cap on the number of arriving passengers — holding them to 4,000 a week. Last month, that number was boosted to 6,000 a week.

The reason for the limits is to ease pressure on a quarantine system that is run by the states and the territories.

All returning Australians face two weeks of quarantine, and they have to serve it in hotel rooms — a system that has a limited capacity.

The federal government is now underwriting a series of special flights to bring more of its citizens home, with added quarantine facilities.

Yesterday, Qantas carried 174 Australians from London to Darwin — the airline’s first international flight since June. It’s the first of 8 Qantas flights that will be bringing more Australians home in the near future — from the United Kingdom, India and South Africa.

Outgoing flights from Australia are also limited these days; because of the pandemic, residents still need special permission from the government to leave the country.