Shipping Australia has filed a submission to government officials in which we advocate for maritime crew to be excluded from the caps on international passengers arriving into Australia by air.
“The current position is ambiguous and unsatisfactory with respect to maritime crew,” Shipping Australia CEO Rod Nairn wrote in our submission.
Earlier this week, at what was extremely short notice, the Aviation and Airports team at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications called for industry input into the caps on the numbers of international passengers that are allowed to arrive in Australia.
Currently, the cap numbers are:
- Sydney – 350 passengers / day
- Perth – 525 passengers / week
- Brisbane – 500 passengers / week
- Melbourne – no passengers
- Canberra, Adelaide, Darwin – some capacity may be available on application.
Department officials were seeking input into the implementation and effectiveness of the mechanism used under the Air Navigation Regulations 2016 to limit international passenger arrivals into Australia during the COVID-19 crisis.
The purpose of the review is to enable the Department to provide advice to National Cabinet ahead of the expiry of the existing international passenger arrival management measures at Australia’s major international airports on 8 August 2020.
Shipping Australia pointed out that current rules require airlines to approach the Department of Infrastructure within five days of aircraft departure to confirm whether maritime crew are exempt from the overall numbers or not. This is unworkable for maritime crew who cannot afford to wait until a day or two prior to their departure date to find out whether they can travel. Maritime crew have to plan ahead and co-ordinate
- Pre-embarkation Covid-19 testing and isolation periods
- transport on limited flights
- obtain the appropriate visas
- allow for the specific state quarantine requirements (which differ for each Australian state)
- allow for domestic air/overland transport within Australia, and
- alignment of these logistics with the arrival of their vessel in their destination port.
“Clearly for Australia to meet its international obligations under the Maritime Labour convention all maritime crew travelling to Australia in order to join a ship (for crew change) must be clearly exempted from the airline passenger cap,” Rod Nairn wrote.