The head of Canberra Airport is becoming increasingly frustrated about the alacrity with which state governments seem to slam the borders closed.
Stephen Byron has accused South Australia of unlawfully shutting down the aviation industry. Its decision to ban Canberrans from flying into Adelaide is not based on health grounds, he said.
"They have unlawfully shut down our business and Qantas' and Virgin's," Mr Byron told The Canberra Times.
"Canberra Airport is in the business of supporting people to fly. They've shut down all business between Canberra and Adelaide."
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall confirmed on Thursday the state would not be opening up to residents of the ACT, despite there being no recorded cases of coronavirus in the territory.
South Australia will open its borders to Western Australia and the Northern Territory, but borders will remain closed to New South Wales and the ACT.
South Australian premier Premier Steven Marshall says the fact the ACT hasn't recorded any COVID-19 cases "confounds" epidemiologists, given its porous border with NSW. Confirms border restrictions with ACT won't be lifted at this stage.— Dan Jervis-Bardy (@D_JervisBardy) July 8, 2021
Health authorities advised that Canberra residents had been banned because of the proximity to Sydney, and the fact 11,000 people were in home quarantine in the ACT last week.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has joined the call for Western Australia and South Australia to drop border restrictions with Canberra while the capital is COVID-19 free.
Mr Barr said he had been in regular contact with his counterparts in South Australia and Western Australia, making the case that the greatest risk period from the Sydney outbreak for the ACT had passed.
"We will continue to press the case with South Australia and hope their decision will be reconsidered next week. I understand the WA-ACT border arrangements will be considered again soon," the Chief Minister said.
Mr Barr said the ACT was clearly not a part of Greater Sydney and should not be included in NSW for border restrictions.
"Through a combination of good management and good luck, we have had very few Covid cases," he said.
"This should be acknowledged by other jurisdictions. I have made this point at National Cabinet and bilaterally with almost all other jurisdictions at various points during the last 16 months."
Mr Byron said the travelling public needed some certainty that they wouldn't be prohibited from flying when there was no cases and staff at airports needed the same certainty that their jobs wouldn't suddenly disappear.
"It can't be on health grounds. We have zero cases. Do they want us to have less than zero cases?
"It's disgraceful and it's un-Australian," he said.
Mr Byron said Canberra Airport, Qantas and Virgin wanted a guarantee from governments they would not shut borders to the capital if the region continued to record zero COVID-19 cases.
If state governments could not provide that guarantee, Mr Byron flagged the potential of suspending all flights between Canberra and Adelaide and Canberra and Perth.
"It's just a mess," Mr Byron said. "We're not asking for a lot. We're asking for a guarantee from now on that the border to Canberra, to the ACT, won't be shut as long as there are zero cases," Mr Byron said on Sky News.
"If you can give us that undertaking, it makes sense for us to restart flights to Perth and Adelaide. If they can't give us that, then basically we might as well give up. We're sick of it."
Mr Byron contrasted the South Australian border closure with the health advice in Queensland and New Zealand who both have open borders with the ACT. Similarly Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
"We can accept closed borders to places with community transmission of Covid but being locked out of states when we have no Covid is not health based," he said.
"It's politics and we and staff in the airlines have had enough."
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