‘There are no flights’: Australian travellers leave coronavirus quarantine only to find they are still stranded

Thousands of people around Australia are preparing to leave hotel quarantine after two weeks of isolation, but a lack of domestic flights has left many with no way of completing their journey home.
Passengers have generally been required to quarantine in whichever state they land, not where they live. A large number will require domestic flights home upon release, but these are becoming increasingly difficult to find.
Currently there are no flights for at least two weeks as far as I can see, said Jane Green, who was among a group of passengers from the Vasco da Gama cruise ship released from hotel quarantine in Perth on Friday.
To get back to South Australia, Green and her friend had to book a flight to Sydney, where they would have stayed overnight and flown to Adelaide the next day. But even this circuitous route has since been cancelled.
There currently isnt a way to leave. Even if you drive there are issues with travel borders within Western Australia We cant get hold of anyone to tell us what to do, Green said.
Weve had a complete information vacuum. Very, very, very few of the documents weve been provided with has a direct contact number.
Andrew McMahon is set to be released from Perth quarantine in the coming week. After having two flights to Melbourne cancelled he is now considering spending upwards of $1,500 on a rental car.
Thats not even including insurance and accommodation for the three-day drive home he said.
I currently have no plan. We had booked a [Qantas] red-eye flight to Melbourne for myself and to Sydney for my sister. They just evaporated off my travel agents screen.
We made new bookings for Virgin for Tuesday, and then Virgin grounded all the flights, essentially.
Both Green and McMahon have been contacted by the Western Australian government concerning the possibility of charter flights home, but have not received confirmation of flights or cost.
The WA state government has been contacted for comment.
Only three airlines are still flying domestically in Australia Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin. All have drastically reduced their scheduled flights, particularly those to and from Western Australia.
The next scheduled flight out of Perth is by Qantas on 24 April. Jetstar has none scheduled until at least 1 June.
On Thursday Virgin announced it would halt almost all domestic flights. It is now running only Melbourne to Sydney return flights six times a week and serving some small mining communities in Western Australia.
As a result of government restrictions, fewer people are travelling and we have made changes to our schedules to reflect this, a Virgin spokesperson said.
Virgin Australia is conducting international repatriation flights from Hong Kong and Los Angeles to Brisbane, but the airline has no flights from Brisbane to any other state.
Andrea, who asked that her last name not be used, is among those stuck in Brisbane after Virgin cancelled her domestic flight.
She said she had spent more than $3,500 on plane tickets trying to get from New York to Melbourne.
Im just haemorrhaging money, she said.
Andrea has been told to leave her quarantining hotel by noon on 14 April, but cannot get a flight out that day.
They said I cant pay for another night at the hotel at my own expense, I cant even leave my bags at the hotel to come to get them later.
She said some flights had been cancelled without her being notified.
Andrea has now booked two flights for 16 April, one with Qantas and one with Jetstar, hoping at least one will go ahead.
Not everyone has that luxury. Theyre not like, Oh great, Im gonna go and spend an extra $500 on another flight just in case, she said.
The only way to actually be OK in this pandemic is if youre either connected, youre educated or youre very affluent, and thats just not OK People are getting stranded and they just dont have any information.
A Qantas spokesperson said flights had been cancelled due to limited demand.
Earlier this week we had some flights with only a handful of passengers on board, which just isnt sustainable for us given the high costs of operating, the company said in a statement.
We remain in discussions with the federal government about operating a minimum domestic and regional network for essential travel during the crisis.
A spokeswoman said Qantas attempted to contact customers who had flights cancelled as part of the standard cancellation process.
A spokesman for Virgin Australia said that all affected passengers who booked their flights directly with Virgin Australia have been notified of the schedule changes.
However, for bookings through a travel agent, the agent rather than the customer will be informed if a Virgin flight is cancelled.
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