Flight costs soar as people rush to beat border closures


Anyone hoping to make a last minute escape from NSW and head to Queensland ahead of Christmas can expect to pay a premium price with the current outbreak causing flight costs to surge.

Recently Virgin Australia was offering $89 flights from Sydney to Brisbane but since the northern beaches COVID-19 cluster was uncovered prices have increased dramatically.

Prices for one-way flights have now jumped to almost $800 in some cases, which is an increase of about 800%. The cheapest options start at about at $195 and increase from there.

Qantas prices have also surged for flights from Sydney to Brisbane, with the cheapest options for Saturday starting at about $300.

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It comes as hundreds of people have rushed to Sydney Airport in a bid to leave the state following fears more border restrictions will be announced.

Multiple states and territories have already reimposed border restrictions for the northern beaches, with some even requiring all NSW residents to go into mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

In response to the recent border changes, Virgin Australia is offering fee-free changes to all bookings until January 31. Change fees can also be waived up until March 31, 2021 for COVID-19 reasons.

“Due to the evolving situation in New South Wales, some States and Territories are implementing revised border restrictions. Customers should ensure they check the latest information on the respective Government websites prior to travel,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson said in a statement.

“While New South Wales services are currently operating as normal, changes to customer demand and booking trends may require us to adjust our forward schedule.

“Any impacted customers will be provided with options to re-book on alternative services or be able obtain a travel credit for use at a later stage.”

NSW confirmed 10 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the northern beaches cluster to 28 infections.

People living in the northern beaches have been asked to stay at home for the next three days and only go out for necessary reasons.

All public spaces in the area have been shut down and will remain closed until at least Sunday.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she is hopeful increased restrictions won’t have to be placed on the northern beaches, but said she wouldn’t hesitate to do so if it becomes necessary.

“We don’t want to go down the mandatory path but we will if we have to but at this stage, let’s see how the next 24 to 48 hours goes,” Ms Berejiklian said on Friday.

“I will not hesitate to take on health advice if Dr Chant and her team give us advice to the alternative but at this stage we believe what we have in place is commensurate or matches what the risk is.

“But I also do want to stress we don’t want to be in a position just before Christmas to have to restrict the easing of restrictions we have put in place a couple of weeks ago. We don’t want to do that unless we absolutely have to do but I cannot rule that out until we know what the next 24 to 48 hours looks like.”

The premier said for the moment people in hotspot areas appeared to be following health advice but said the need for restrictions could change if cases continue to rise.

Ms Berejiklian said it might not just be the northern beaches community being impacted, with restrictions possible encompassing greater Sydney if the outbreak spreads.


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