Australian airline Qantas says it plans to resume international flights by the end of October 2021. It’s positive news for keen Australian travellers whose borders have been closed since March last year.
In the half-year financial results, Qantas confirmed its plans to fly internationally again by autumn. Both Qantas and Jetstar, the company’s lower-priced carrier, plan to relaunch international travel to most of their former routes by or before October 31.
The timing aligns with when Australia’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is expected to finish. Of course, if the situation changes the dates to resume international flights will be revised too.
Where will they fly
First of all, Qantas will ramp up trans-Tasman flights between Australian cities and New Zealand by July. Both countries have very low rates of coronavirus due to their hotel quarantine schemes and are starting to allow exclusive international travel where passengers can bypass quarantine on arrival between the two. It’s the first step for both as they slowly reopen borders.
By the end of October 2021, Qantas plans to resume international flights on 22 of its 25 international routes. That includes international travel to cities such as Los Angeles, Johannesburg and London. Sibling airline Jetstar, will bring back all 13 of its routes, flying to places like Bangkok, Seoul and Tokyo by October 31.
Your Qantas flight to London could mean spending December hopping around European Christmas markets, or a flight to Los Angeles could see you spending a dreamy bucket-list Christmas in New York, or the chance to see the Northern Lights in Canada.
Each route will fly fewer planes with fewer passengers per plane. The airline is already looking into digital health passes or vaccine passports to help identify whether a Qantas passenger has been vaccinated before international flights in 2021.
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Flights to nowhere a sell-out
With borders entirely closed to non-residents, and residents not allowed to take international flights, unsurprisingly Qantas has taken a financial hit since the pandemic began. The 1000-year-old airline turned to more creative ideas to entice travellers and keep its planes in the air.
Keen to resume international flights, the airline launched sightseeing trips. Qantas deployed its state-of-the-art B787 Dreamliner aircraft, usually reserved for long haul international flights, for the “flights to nowhere”. While on board, guests experience the full service of a Qantas international flight while doing low-level flybys of unique Australian destinations across Queensland, the Northern Territory and New South Wales including the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Byron Bay and iconic Sydney Harbour. These flights to nowhere sold out in less than 10 minutes. The airline has also launched sightseeing flights to Antarctica.
Will these Qantas international flights go ahead?
Whether the flights go ahead in October or not will come back to what the Australian Government decides with the border. Back in January, Qantas started selling tickets for flights dated from July 1, but obviously these flights have been postponed for now. Any customers who bought tickets were protected with refunds, a free change-of-date or travel vouchers.
Will you be booking a Qantas international flight out of Australia in 2021? Or waiting until Qantas resumes international flights? Let us know in the comments…