Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience…
Calls to boycott Virgin Australia trended on Twitter on Tuesday after the airline’s chief executive made the case to reopen international borders even if that meant a small number of people might die. Critics claim Jayne Hrdlicka is putting profit before public health and that her choice of words doesn’t reflect what Australians actually want.
During a speech at a business event in Brisbane, Hrdlicka argued that the Australian government should bring forward its mid-2022 timeline for easing international travel restrictions and that reopening the country’s borders should be linked to the vaccination rollout.
But even with the most vulnerable protected with highly efficacious vaccines, Hrdlicka admitted that some people might still become seriously ill with COVID-19 and subsequently die if the borders were reopened and the virus was allowed to spread through the community.
“Some people may die, but it will be way smaller than with the flu,” Hrdlicka argued. “We’re forgetting the fact that we’ve learnt how to live with lots of viruses and challenges over the years, and we’ve got to learn how to live with this.”
The Australian government insists that it isn’t waiting for zero-COVID but on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected pleas from the business community to ease travel restrictions any earlier than what was announced in the recent budget.
“I understand that everyone is keen to get back to a time that we once knew. But the reality is we are living this year in a pandemic that is worse than last year,” Morrison told reporters.
The government would open the border “only when it is safe to do so” Morrison said.
The majority of Australians support the government’s tough border restrictions which have helped to largely protect Australia from the worst of the pandemic but some people are starting to question how and when the borders can ever reopen.
Hrdlicka was, it would appear, attempting to kickstart that difficult conversation, telling the audience that there won’t ever be an appetite to loosen the current restrictions without a change to the “narrative”.
Keeping the borders closed could turn Australia into a hermit nation. “We’re all going to be sicker than we ever have in the past because we’re not exposed to the virus and challenges of the rest of the world,” Hrdlicka said. “We need to get the borders open for our health and for the economy.”
Virgin Australia didn’t directly address Hrdlicka’s comments on Tuesday but in a Twitter message, the airline attempted to calm tensions over what she had said: “The safety of our guests has always been our number one priority – nothing will change that. We have worked in lock-step with State and Federal governments to put the health and safety of Australians first, and we’ll keep doing that as we learn to live with COVID-19,” the airline Tweeted.
Photo Credit: Daniel Kirby / Virgin Australia
Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline. Mateusz is passionate about the aviation industry and helping aspiring flight attendants achieve their dreams. Cabin crew recruitment can be tough, ultra-competitive and just a little bit confusing - Mateusz has been there and done that. He's got the low down on what really works.