A major US airline has become the first international carrier to pull flights to Australia due to a reduction in the cap for international arrivals.
American Airlines has announced it will suspend all of its passenger and cargo services from LA into Sydney, its only route into the country, from September 1.
The airline said flights would not resume until at least late October, according to Nine News.
It apologised to affected passengers and will reach out to offer alternative arrangements.
“Due to the ongoing travel restrictions surrounding the coronavirus (Covid-19), American is suspending customer and cargo flights between Los Angeles and Sydney between Sept 1 and Oct 28,” the airline said.
American Airlines last week revealed it would fly planes that were 20 per cent empty due to caps on international arrivals.
National cabinet agreed this month to halve the number of arrivals into Australia after a push from some state leaders concerned about the pressure on hotel quarantine.
That saw the cap fall from more than 6000 each week to about 3000.
The decision was made after an outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus plunged Sydney into lockdown.
It’s a further blow to the estimated 34,000 Australians stranded overseas waiting to return home.
Since the pandemic began and Australia’s international borders were closed, many ex-pats have struggled to find seats on repatriation flights, facing exorbitant prices and frequent cancellations.
Anyone who flies into the country must also spend 14 days in hotel quarantine at a personal cost of $3000.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government agreed to drop the cap on arrivals as it would “take the pressure off” the quarantine system.
“Because of the particular virulency of the Delta strain, it is believed that is a prudent action while we remain in this suppression phase of the virus,” Mr Morrison said earlier this month.
He said the government would endeavour to increase the number of repatriation flights into the Darwin facility at Howard Springs.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian did not support the move to reduce arrivals.
“My heart goes out to thousands of Australians who have to wait longer to come home,” said Ms Berejiklian.