Geraldton to shoulder most of Qantas flight cancellations due to COVID absences

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
A Qantas plane is readied for flight at Geraldton Airport.
Camera IconA Qantas plane is readied for flight at Geraldton Airport. Credit: Anita Kirkbright/The Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton will bear the brunt of flight cancellations over the next four weeks when a major airline limits arrivals and departures from regional airports due to COVID-related pressures.

It was revealed on Friday that at least 19 flights across WA would be cancelled to manage the impact of COVID-related absences. This includes 15 Geraldton flights from Thursday to July 15.

Passengers can be re-allocated on the next available flight, with a Qantas spokesperson saying the plan would give flyers time to rethink their travel arrangements.

“By making these changes in advance, we are better able to prevent last-minute cancellations which are more disruptive for travellers,” they said.

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“We thank the Geraldton community for their understanding.”

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said while the cancellations were unfortunate, the move would reduce the risk of passengers arriving at the airport only to have their flight delayed or scrapped due to staff absences.

“We will continue to monitor that situation as best we can but obviously these are trying times as everyone is trying to return to work, although COVID remains in the community,” he said.

“Geraldton still retains a flight a day, unlike a number of regional centres where they are now without air services for the next couple of weeks.”

The changes coincide with the introduction of capped airfares for regional residents travelling to and from Perth. The scheme will see passengers pay no more than $199 each way when booked as a a return flight.

Mr Van Styn said the timing of the cancellations was “unfortunate” but believed tourism into the Mid West would not be significantly affected.

“Tourism is mainly drive-in, drive-out for Geraldton, so it probably won’t affect tourism in that regard, but it will obviously create difficulties for people who need to travel for both work and health purposes,” he said.

Locals took to social media last week to convey their frustration over the announcement, with one Geraldton resident saying they have had 11 flights cancelled in the past four months.

One woman who had booked a now-scrapped flight said the move would cost her money and time with loved ones.

“Now we either have to fork out for another night’s accommodation or fly back early morning, cutting short precious time with loved ones,” she wrote.

Mr Van Styn said the cancellations would be reviewed at the end of the four weeks but he hoped no more bookings would need to be pre-emptively scrapped.

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