News National Jetstar boss refuses to say sorry over plane mishap, blames NSW Health

Jetstar boss refuses to say sorry over plane mishap, blames NSW Health

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Jetstar’s boss has refused to apologise over the botched plane arrival that saw Victorian passengers disembark in Sydney without undergoing health checks, forcing health officials and police to chase down 50 passengers.

Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans flat-out denied the hiccup is on the same magnitude as the Ruby Princess disaster, instead calling it “low risk”.

Mr Evans said it wasn’t “appropriate” to hand out blame over the misstep, despite the official ruling declaring it was airline staff who let passengers leave the gate area before thorough COVID-19 checks.

He pointed the finger at the New South Wales health department, saying it was as much at fault.

“There was not a NSW Health official in the aerobridge. There should have been,” Mr Evans told a press conference on Thursday.

“Our people should have held the aircraft, they didn’t.”

Despite Victoria recording triple-digit coronavirus cases for the past week, Mr Evans said there was a “very, very low risk” the Jetstar passengers would transmit the virus into Sydney.

The passengers were already screened before boarding the plane in Melbourne on Tuesday, but NSW protocol dictates all arrivals be screened upon landing before entering 14 days of self-isolation.

Of the 137 arrivals, 89 were caught and checked before they left the airport. Forty-five are due to be checked after they were contacted by health officials after leaving the airport. Police have been called in to track down and check the final three, one of whom has refused the request.

The Transport Workers Union has slammed Jetstar parent company Qantas over the incident, saying it was “no surprise” that a major breach occurred.

“This could have serious health implications and is concerning for other passengers and workers,” national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“It is not good enough for Jetstar to try and shift the blame on this. Qantas all along has been implementing their own systems, which we believe do not keep passengers or workers safe.”

Mr Kaine said there needed to be a national ruling on handed down by the federal government, to ensure there was adequate screening, checks and protocol in place at all airports.

-with agencies