The travel industry will take three years to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and will never be the same again with forced testing before and after the flights.
Flight Center CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner said how quickly the rebound in the domestic industry will depend on government policy on Wednesday.
Turner said that replacing two-week travel quarantines with forced coronavirus tests before and after flights was one way to quickly increase travel levels.
“It is really up to the government to decide these kinds of things, and if it relaxes the restrictions, it will come back soon enough,” Turner told ABC radio.
A woman is tested for coronavirus after leaving a flight. Pre- and post-flight tests will replace quarantine, says Flight Center CEO Graham Turner
“Maybe 18 months to two years (international travel) could return to 70%, but it will probably take three years to return to pre-COVID levels. “
Currently, overseas travelers arriving in Australia and many other countries are required to self-finance a two-week quarantine period at a hotel.
Turner believes quarantine discourages people from traveling and says that travelers’ pre-testing and then re-testing at entry could be implemented instead.
“I think the protocols will soon be at the stage where they are likely to be as safe as a two-week quarantine in a hotel,” he said.
Flight attendants wearing PPE on a Qatar Airways plane. Turner said it will take the travel industry three years to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic
Flight Center has cut approximately 16,000 employees worldwide since the pandemic started earlier this year.
Other major tourism players, such as Virgin and Qantas, have also been forced to lay off thousands of workers while thefts are grounded.
Turner called on the federal government to either continue the JobKeeper industry wage subsidy program or launch a new program to help it stay afloat.
“I think it will be necessary not only for travel, but also for airlines and all tourism operators … otherwise hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost,” he said.
Turner’s forecast for the travel industry comes after the cancellation of the first “trans-Tasman travel bubble” flights between Australia and New Zealand
Turner (photo) called on the federal government to either continue the JobKeeper industry wage subsidy program or launch a new program to help it stay afloat.
The first flight over the Tasman Sea was scheduled to leave Canberra for Wellington on Tuesday, but was canceled after the rapid increase in community-transmitted infections in Victoria, with the state recording 64 new cases on Tuesday.
Canberra Airport General Manager Stephen Byron said NCA NewsWire flights will now be scheduled for the end of July.
“The nature of the return of the virus to Melbourne, as well as continuing discussions with the Australian and New Zealand governments, have led to flight delays,” he said.
Byron said 4,000 travelers have expressed interest in crossing the Tasman.
“People want to travel between Australia and New Zealand, people want to go home, both ways, and they want to do it without quarantine,” he said.
Qantas planes landed at Sydney Airport. The airline recently laid off 6,000 workers while Flight Center laid off 16,000 employees worldwide