An additional 1150 Australians will soon be able to return home each week, after national cabinet agreed to increase the capacity at the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory.
The former workers camp just outside of Darwin currently houses 850 Australians returning on Commonwealth repatriation flights each week, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that would soon increase to 2000.
Speaking after national cabinet on Friday, Mr Morrison said the agreement with the Northern Territory government marked an “important addition”.
More than 40,000 Australians remain stranded overseas, but the increase is unlikely to begin rolling out until next month.
“There are (currently) wet season issues that we’re dealing with,” Mr Morrison said.
“And so we would expect (the increase in capacity) to occur around April or May.”
State-run hotel quarantine facilities will remain at their current capacity, with Victoria yet to resume housing returning travellers.
Mr Morrison said he wanted to thank New South Wales, which was taking more than 3000 people per week.
“Both Western Australia and Queensland are also now back over 1000 per week, and South Australia at 530,” he said.
“I’m looking forward soon to a decision from the Victorian government once they’re in a position to advise us of when they’ll be also in a position to take flights again.”