The quiet word on the streets is that MB played a role in this, at the ABC:
Qantas will soon fly to COVID-19 hotspots across Europe to help bring stranded Australians home.
The ABC has confirmed Qantas planes will head to France and Germany to pick up passengers next month.
Some Australians have received an email from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that says there will be limited seats available on the flights.
The new flights are on top of the current repatriation flights that have brought Australians home from India and London.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne would not provide details, but confirmed Qantas would fly to more countries soon.
“There are more to follow over the coming weeks from both New Delhi, London and other locations,” she said on Thursday.
Several flights will be put on before and after Christmas from different locations and DFAT is in the final stages of determining how many people will be able to come back on the flights.
Germany and France flights
More than 36,000 Australians have told DFAT they want to come home, and 8,070 are classed as “vulnerable”.
Some have now been sent details about how to book a seat on the flights leaving from Paris and Frankfurt in the middle of December.
If they live in another country, they must organise their own travel to the airport. The ticket price for the trip home starts at $2,151 per person.
Passengers over the age of 12 are required to get a COVID-19 test no more than two days before departure and can only board if their result is negative.
Once on the flight, passengers must wear face masks and change them every two hours.
In the information provided by Qantas, it encourages people to bring their own food and water due to “limited onboard food and bottles of water.”
This is the first time repatriation flights have been organised from these two countries.
The planes will land in Darwin and passengers will be required to spend two weeks in quarantine at the Howard Springs Facility.
Keen to book a ticket
Jo, who asked the ABC not to use her last name, has worked and lived in Italy for more than two years.
The 39-year old language teacher ran into trouble a few months ago when her work visa was not renewed, she lost her job and struggled with a difficult pregnancy that has resulted in expensive medical bills.
“My parents have been supporting me completely which is pretty weird when you are 39 and they have to support you even if it’s just to eat.”
She found it impossible to book a flight home and asked DFAT for help to get home.
“The seriousness came when my doctor told me that she would advise me to have a C-section. If that is the case, I will not be able to physically care for a newborn,” she said.
“I don’t know what I’m doing, I need my family.”
DFAT sent her an email last week about a flight from Singapore but despite replying she never heard back and that plane landed in Canberra without her on Thursday.
Jo is hopeful that she will get a seat on one of the flights out of France or Germany.
“The race is on, I have a time window to travel before I am deemed unfit to travel due to potential complications,” she said.
It will be a long trip home for Jo, as all flights from Naples to Paris or Frankfurt have been cancelled so she is now looking at train options.
International arrival caps a problem but some on the rise
DFAT says 39,000 people have returned home since September, but there is pressure on the federal and state governments to allow more Australians back before Christmas.
Victoria and South Australia are expected to restart hotel quarantine next month while Tasmania will accept three flights before Christmas.
On Thursday Canberra welcomed its first international flight in months, and more planes are set to land soon.
It is understood that a deal between the federal and Northern Territory governments is close to being finalised that will double the fortnightly cap at the Howard Springs Facility to 1,000 people.
According to sources, “it was an anonymous blog post which raised uncomfortable detail and some significant factors which if they were repeated in the mainstream media could lead to a groundswell of opinion about the issue” that tipped the scales.
The Smartravellor central reference page for the stranded also appeared following MB pressure and well before treasonous Labor said boo.