The Australian Government is cracking open its borders for a group of fee-paying international students next month. Around 300 international students will fly from Singapore to Adelaide in September. They will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine before resuming their studies. It’s all in the name of kick-starting Australia’s US$27.5 billion international education sector.
Kickstarting the international education sector
The trial program was developed in conjunction with the university sector. The relevant university will pay the mandatory hotel quarantine fee of approximately US$2160 per student. But that’s small change in the scheme of things with the universities desperate to restore their rivers of cash from international students.
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To spread the load on health and quarantine facilities, international arrivals into Adelaide are currently capped at just 500 passengers a week. Individual flights also have ceilings on how many passengers they can fly in. Sometimes this is a low as 30 passengers per flight.
Simple Flying has reached out to the relevant Minister’s office to ask whether the students will have to fit into the existing caps or whether an exception will get made for them.
If all goes well, the Australian Government will look at expanding the program and allowing more students in.
Australians curtailed in their ability to undertake essential travel
Meanwhile, some Australian citizens remain unimpressed the government is bending over backward to accommodate the university sector. At the same time, it is seemingly indifferent to the plight of its citizens stranded abroad and kept at home.
Simple Flying has reported on the problems Australian citizens are facing getting home. With government-imposed caps on passenger numbers, seats on planes are in hot demand. In response, the price of tickets has skyrocketed as airlines focus on selling tickets in premium cabins only.
Equally problematic is a ban on Australians leaving the country with an exit permit program in place. The Australian Border Force has denied 69,310 out of the 91,950 applications by Australians to leave Australia in the four months to July 31. Non-citizens are free to leave at any time.
The restrictions on travel in both directions are severely curtailing the ability of Australians to undertake essential travel.
Using blunt governmental measures to restrict demand is also undermining airlines as they try to maintain services.
Travel restrictions questioned
So folks are wondering why the Australian Government is putting more effort into getting international students back into Australian than they are their citizens.
Checking the arrivals board into Adelaide over the three days from Monday, August 17 to Wednesday, August 19, there is only one international flight, a Singapore Airlines service. That kind of scarcity is a function of COVID-19 and a general downturn in travel demand. But the restrictions imposed by the Australian Government also play a significant role.
That kind of scarcity helps explain why it can cost over US$10,000 to fly from Europe to Australia these days. As the government begins to unwind restrictions on international students, many argue it is about time they did the same with their citizens. It would go a long way to boosting flights and reducing fares.