SINGAPORE: An Australian industry body that represents several international carriers, including Singapore Airlines (SIA), has raised concerns about the operational challenges of flying to Australia amid changing COVID-19 border measures.
According to the Guardian, airlines operating flights to Australia have complained about a lack of information from the government on changes to flight caps and quarantine measures.
Carriers have had to find out about such measures through the media or statements issued at press conferences, said the report, citing a submission that the industry body sent to the Australian National Audit Office.
The industry body - the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) - promotes the safe and efficient operations of international airlines serving Australia, according to its website.
Its members include Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, ANA, Emirates, Qatar Airways and American Airlines.
In response to CNA’s queries on Saturday (Mar 27), SIA said: "We can confirm that Singapore Airlines is a member of BARA.
"We are supportive of BARA’s recent submission regarding the Australian government’s border management policies.”
BARA's executive director Barry Abrams said that other countries communicate planned changes to the airlines directly, allowing them to make adjustments to their services before changes are publicly announced, according to the Guardian.
In a separate publication online, BARA said international airlines are flying to Australia under "very poor commercial conditions and ongoing operational challenges".
For instance, some hotels where airline crew members stay while waiting for outbound flights are at times not able to provide meals.
“At an operational level, airlines continue to raise issues of concern over the organisation and delivery of arrangements for air crew. They include delays at the airport and late arrival at hotels, with the hotel operator at times then unable to provide meals,” said BARA.
“The efficiency of safe aircraft operations must be supported by properly rested air crew, basic dietary provisions and efficient travel to and from the airport to the crew hotels.”
It added that there was a lack of COVID-19 testing capacity at airports, “leading to ongoing delays and problems for all staff involved in hotel quarantine”.
BARA said that while airlines understand the importance of Australia's quarantine and infection controls measure, their implementation has, at times, led to "chaotic outcomes for airlines, passengers and staff involved in hotel quarantine”.
According to the industry body, the operational challenges experienced are not dissipating despite requirements being in place for many months.
"Airlines wish to strongly note that greatly reducing the number of permitted arrivals (including international border closures) at short notice continues to cause significant disruption, stress and cost for passengers and airlines," said BARA.