Aviation

BUSHFIRES UPDATE: Flights cancelled, Airbnb hosts open their doors

Both Qantas and Virgin were forced to cancel flights yesterday as firefighters continue to battle catastrophic bushfires across NSW and Queensland.

Three people have been confirmed dead by authorities as dozens of fires continue to burn across Australia.

An estimated 50 homes have been lost in NSW alone during yesterday’s devastating fire crisis.

Yesterday, Qantas said in a tweet that the weather in Sydney and North NSW was impacting some services and urged passengers to check their flight status for updates.

A spokesperson for the national carrier confirmed to Travel Weekly that the airline’s services between Sydney and Port Macquarie and Sydney and Coffs Harbour were affected, with a dozen flights cancelled in total due to low visibility from smoke from the bushfires.

“We’ve added extra flights today to get people on their way,” the spokesperson said.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson also confirmed that the carrier’s Port Macquarie flights had to be cancelled.

Virgin posted to Twitter thanking all the emergency service personnel for their important contributions to saving lives, animals and homes.

We’re humbled to partner with @Salvos. Donate to The Salvation Army via the link on our website, or ‘tap and go’ units in our Lounges,” the airline said. 

9 News reported Regional Express was also forced to cancel all services to Grafton due to visibility issues caused by the smoke, adding that other ports on the NSW North and South Coasts may be affected as the fires develop in the coming days.

Airbnb hosts chip in 

Airbnb hosts are providing free emergency accommodation to those affected by the bushfires, according to The Feed.

More than 350 hosts have volunteered their homes through the Open Homes initiative which allows hosts with active listings or those with a spare bed to offer residents or rescue workers free temporary accommodation.

“What is astounding is the geographic range of the houses being offered. You’ve got places from south of Bundaberg, Toowoomba, Ballina all the way to places like Coffs Harbour, Bryon Bay and Port Macquarie,” AirBnB’s Australian country manager Susan Wheeldon told The Feed.

“Just today, the sheer number of listings that are being added, minute by minute – it’s really heartwarming.

“It’s a testament to the amazing Australian community, It’s allowing a number of residents that have been devastated by bushfire to have somewhere that they can call home, if only temporarily.”

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