Australia’s on-again, off-again approach to borders, bubbles and passenger caps is affecting confidence not only in tourism, but also international aviation.

Health Department boss Brendan Murphy’s warning on Monday that international travel would most likely not resume until 2022 unleashed widespread frustration and concern that the nation’s $150 billion tourism industry will all but collapse.
It has also sparked fears that more international airlines may struggle to keep servicing Australia with such low inbound passenger numbers well below 3 per cent of pre-COVID-19 incoming traffic.
On January 16, a few days before Professor Murphy’s comments, Emirates pulled out of Australia immediately after national cabinet halved the cap on international arrivals.
The drastic action was taken over concerns that the hotel quarantine system would not cope with the more virulent UK strain of the coronavirus.
It left thousands of Australians stranded overseas in an even worse position, and means only about 5000 international air passengers can now fly into Australian capital cities each week, with 1505 of those spots allocated to Sydney, and 1120 to Melbourne.
The cap will be reviewed on February 15.
Singapore Airlines is doing the lion’s share of incoming flights, with 14 flights a week into Sydney, seven into both Melbourne and Perth, five to Brisbane and three to Adelaide.
Doha-based Qatar Airways is doing seven flights a week into both Sydney and Melbourne, four times a week into Perth and thrice weekly services into both Brisbane and Adelaide.
Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Etihad also continue to bring passengers into Australia from Britain.
Emirates ceased flights to Australia earlier this month after national cabinet halved the cap on international arrivals. 
In November last year, BARA made a “Future of Australia’s Aviation Sector” submission to the Australian government, stating that the airlines wanted to work with the government on a more “risk-based approach” to arrivals, including creating green lanes as in Singapore and other Asian nations.
The BARA submission says given Australia’s excellent record, there is now a strong case for prioritising “more international passengers and freight, while continuing to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
“By doing so, Australians could return home in a more orderly manner, increased air freight would support Australian businesses, and the gradual return of international tourism would become possible.”
BARA’s many members include Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has again hinted at possible moves to lift some international border restrictions before the end of 2021, if medical advice and vaccine rollout data suggests it could be safe.
“What we’ve done all the way through this COVID crisis is just take one step at a time, based on the information we have at the time and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”
However, Professor Murphy and Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly both said this week international travel was unlikely for Australians before 2022, with hotel quarantine requirements set to stay in place.
Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert said speculation on borders was not helpful, and called for Australia to capitalise on its effective management of COVID-19.
“We need to develop plans, market by market, so we make sure were ready to go and planes are full when we get the green light. We need to make sure we extract the maximum economic dividend from our world-class management of the virus.”
Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the federal government.
The health and safety of Australians remains our governments top priority and international borders will be opened when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians,” he said.