How Qantas and Jetstar flights will change due to coronavirus

Qantas and Jetstar will provide passengers with masks, enhance aircraft cleaning and stagger boarding and disembarkation in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus as domestic travel resumes. 

The new measures will be rolled out from June 12, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said on Tuesday, adding that the company was preparing for the resumption of domestic travel within the next few months.

"There is a possibility that we might have nearly all the states opening up as early as July and we're planning for that," Mr Joyce said.

Qantas and Jetstar will provide passengers with masks, enhance aircraft cleaning and stagger boarding and disembarkation in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Source: AAP

"We have the ability to put a large amount of our capacity back into the air dependent on plans, and we're giving people certainty about what the process would look like and the health and wellbeing that we're putting in place."

The airlines' plans include the provision of recommended, although not mandatory, face masks for all passengers, increased aircraft cleaning, hand sanitising stations at departure gates and sequenced boarding and disembarkation to avoid crowding.

Passengers will also be encouraged to check-in online and use the self-serve bag drop.

Service and catering will be simplified to minimise contact between passengers and crew, and passengers will be asked to limit their movement around the cabin once seated.

However, an extra seat will no longer be left in between passengers because social distancing isn’t practical on an aircraft, Qantas medical director Ian Hosegood said.

Dr Hosegood said there is a low risk of someone contracting coronavirus on an airplane because passengers don’t sit face-to-face, aircraft seats act as a barrier and hospital-grade filters clean the cabin air. 

"The extra measures we're putting in place will reduce the risk even further," Dr Hosegood said in a statement on Tuesday.

Reopening Australia 

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has urged state and territory governments to open borders to domestic holidaymakers when safe.

Queensland has flagged border closures with southern states could remain until at least September due to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting despair from tourism groups, while WA and SA are also signalling borders will remain shut until the end of winter.

Senator Birmingham said states and territories should seek to reopen.

A Qantas Boeing 747 passenger plane bound for Sydney. Source: Getty

"Those states who've got border controls in place, assuming we've continued to see very low rates of transmission of COVID-19, ought to be looking at opening up their borders," Senator Birmingham told the Nine Network on Tuesday.

He later told reporters there was no reason why state borders couldn't reopen well before September if Australia continued to see success in containing the virus.

Tourism – which employs one in 13 Australians – has been one of the hardest-hit sectors as governments act to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Most tourism workers have been forced on to wage subsidies or the temporarily-boosted dole.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said no one wanted restrictions to remain longer than necessary, but state governments were making their decisions based on health advice.

with AAP

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