A passenger wears a mask on a flight (file image)
Passenger have to wear masks on domestic flights in every Australian state and territory. Image by AP PHOTO

Pilot wildly off course with NSW airspace mask claim

Kate Atkinson June 20, 2022

Airline passengers from Queensland have to put on their face masks once they cross into NSW airspace.


False. Masks are mandatory on domestic flights in all Australian states and territories.

A former pilot has claimed plane passengers travelling from Queensland are forced to reach for their face masks when the aircraft crosses into NSW.

Ex-Qantas pilot Graham Hood made the assertion in a Facebook video (screenshot here) posted on June 9.

The claim is false . All Australian states and territories have regulations stating face masks must be worn at all times on domestic flights.

In the video, which has more than 24,000 views, Mr Hood says one of NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s “edicts” means passengers only need to wear a mask when the plane passes over NSW.

“You can board a plane in Brisbane to go to Melbourne, and you can board it without a mask, you can sit there without a mask, but the minute the aeroplane crosses the NSW border to overfly NSW, everyone on board must put a mask on,” he says (video mark 2 min 11 sec).

AAP FactCheck contacted Mr Hood to ask for the source of his claim but did not receive a response.

In January 2021, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) – comprising all state and territory chief health officers and chaired by Australia’s chief medical officeradvised that mask wearing should be mandatory on domestic flights and within indoor areas of airports.

The decision was made following a national cabinet meeting which discussed responses to the initial spread of the Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus.

On June 14, 2022, AHPPC revised the need to mandate mask use at airport terminals. However, masks continue to be required on flights.

The scenario Mr Hood described is inaccurate because someone boarding a plane in Brisbane would be required to wear a mask for the duration of the flight.

Roger Magnusson, a professor of health law and governance at the University of Sydney, told AAP FactCheck a NSW public health order explains when masks must be worn in Clause 6 (1c) of the document.

“They must be worn in airports, hospitals, on public transport and ‘on domestic commercial aircraft, including when the aircraft is flying above NSW’,” he said in an email.

Prof Magnusson said Queensland has a similar requirement, with a public health direction from January 15, 2022, stating “a person on a domestic commercial aircraft must wear a face mask at all times on the aircraft, including when the aircraft is located at a Queensland airport, when the aircraft is landing or taking off and when the aircraft is flying in Queensland airspace.”

Prof Magnusson added: “It seems there is a common view in Queensland and NSW that people in aircraft flying in the airspace of those states should wear masks.”

Mandatory mask requirements for Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory can also be viewed online.

AAP FactCheck has previously debunked other claims made by Mr Hood here, here, here and here.

The Verdict

The claim that Queensland airline passengers are forced to put on masks when entering NSW airspace is false. Wearing a mask is mandatory on all Australian domestic flights so passengers entering NSW airspace would already be wearing a protective face covering.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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