Qantas launches petition to put pressure on states to open borders

Qantas has launched a petition calling on states with low levels of COVID-19 infections to open their borders and encouraged the airline's thousands of employees and suppliers to sign it.

The airline is also encouraging other parts of the travel industry, including airports, travel agents and tour companies, to join the campaign.

The petition calls for a national plan on border openings based on medical advice and a set definition of what constitutes a COVID-19 "hotspot".

The move comes after chief executive Alan Joyce questioned the border closures last month.

"Nobody has an issue with the international borders being closed, that's protected Australia," he said.

"Nobody's had an issue with the borders to Victoria being closed. But it's very clear that we don't have clear guidelines for when the borders will open, when they will close."

Those signing the online petition are asked to provide their postcode and leave a comment on what impact the border closures have had on them. Responses will then be sent to MPs.

The airline is also sending letters to MPs in Queensland and Western Australian electorates that rely on tourism, urging them to help create a framework for reopening borders.

The petition, titled "Safely Reopen Our Borders" reads: "Australians love to travel. While it might be a while before we can fly overseas again, we're lucky there are so many amazing destinations right here in our own backyard. Not to mention friends and family we long to see again. But that can only happen if our domestic borders are opened.

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"The health response to this crisis is our most important priority. That's why we're calling for decisions on domestic border closures to be risk-assessed against an agreed set of medical criteria and a shared definition of what constitutes a COVID hotspot.

"There is huge pent-up demand for domestic travel with Australians wanting to get away on holiday after being stuck at home. We want to see Australians reunite with loved ones after months of being separated. And we want to see local businesses, and the 1 million people in the tourism industry, get back to work."

Qantas announced last month that it would outsource all ground-handling work as part of its COVID-19 recovery plan, including baggage handling and aircraft cleaning, in a bid to save $100 million a year, while sacking 2400 staff in the process. While this was presented as a COVID-19 recovery plan, internal documents showed the plan had been under consideration for 10 years.

Qantas has already laid off 6000 staff due to the COVID-19 downturn, with more than 20,000 stood down.

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