Following extensive consultations with the Mutitjulu community, the Northern Territory Government and Tourism Northern Territory, Ayers Rock (Connellan) Airport has reopened to commercial flights with the resumption of Jetstar services from Brisbane.
The airport will receive two flights per week from Brisbane, in accordance with the Northern Territory and federal government regulations. Flights from identified hotspots remain suspended until further notice.
The decision to resume flights was reached through Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia working collaboratively with the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation, the NT government, Tourism NT, NT Health, NT Police and Jetstar.
Passengers will go through a number of stringent pre-departure screening protocols at the airport.
All air passengers are required to complete the NT government entry permit prior to boarding their flight to Ayers Rock Airport, effectively screening anyone out who does not meet the government’s COVID-19 controls.
Multiple emails are sent, starting 21 days prior to departure, from Voyages to guests, either directly or through their trade partners, including the link to the NT government website with the border entry form, which requires evidence of their movements for 15 days prior to departure to ensure visitors have not been in a hotspot.
The border entry form must be filled out, printed and, along with the evidence (a credit card or bank statement for example), provided at the departure airport.
Designated Voyages COVID safety officers and Jetstar representatives will be present at the departure airport to ensure all paperwork has been completed.
Upon arrival at Ayers Rock Airport, the NT Police and NT Health Department will be checking the permits and may ask additional questions. Heavy fines are in place for providing misleading information.
Temperature screening has been added to the comprehensive arrival procedures at the airport.
If a passenger is feeling unwell or found to have been in a hotspot in the last 15 days, they will be directed to undertake 14 days mandatory supervised quarantine in an alcohol-free facility in Alice Springs at their own cost of $2,500 per person.
Jetstar has also implemented its own procedures to ensure the safety of passengers, including contactless check-in and scanning of boarding passes, social distancing measures, hand sanitising stations, a ‘Fly Well’ pack for all customers including a face mask and sanitising wipes, enhanced cleaning of aircraft, modified inflight catering, and limited movement by passengers on board aircraft.
The air conditioning systems of all Jetstar aircraft are already fitted with hospital-grade filters to remove 99.9 per cent of all particles, including viruses. The air is also refreshed every few minutes, ensuring the highest possible quality of cabin air.
On arrival at Ayers Rock Resort, guests will also find new safety procedures in place to provide them with peace of mind during their stay.
“Voyages places the health and wellbeing of the residents of the Mutitjulu community, in addition to all our guests and staff, as a key priority,” Voyages CEO Matthew Cameron-Smith said.
“These times call for measures we have not encountered previously. We will continue to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure that the necessary, best-practice precautions are being undertaken, and we are excited to welcome guests from Queensland into Ayers Rock Resort.”
Featured image source: Jetstar Airways