Qantas will resume international flights from November as Australia prepares to reopen its border.
Australia’s decision to reopen its international border for the first time in 18 months has fuelled a massive surge in travel demand, with the national carrier Qantas already selling out of some flights.
The first commercial flights are expected to depart next month – a month earlier than planned – once 80 per cent of the eligible population is double vaccinated against COVID-19. (Achieved October 17).
Australia’s biggest city Sydney – in the state of New South Wales – is on track to achieve the milestone this month, while Melbourne and the state of Victoria is expected to hit 70 per cent by the end of October.
Other states, including Queensland and Western Australia, have threatened to keep their borders closed until vaccine rates are even higher.
The prospect of travelling overseas for the first time since March last year has seen Australians rush to get double jabbed, prompting Qantas to bring forward the resumption of international flights.
Qantas will resume flights from November 1 with three weekly return trips on its flagship Sydney-London and Sydney-Los Angeles routes with its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Fares start from $1662 return for Sydney-Los Angeles and $1869 return for Sydney-London.
QF1 from Sydney to London is already booked out in mid July and August next year. Some flights this December are also fully booked.
Flights to Japan, Singapore, Vancouver, Honolulu and Fiji have also been flagged, while the New Zealand travel bubble should resume in some form by mid-December.
The Flying Kangaroo, which says the pandemic has cost it more $16 billion in lost revenue over the past two years, also hopes to resume flights to Hong Kong by February.
The rest of the Qantas and Jetstar international network could open up from April 2022, with capacity increasing gradually.
Virgin Australia will resume international flights from December, with Fiji the first port of call.
All travellers will have to be fully vaccinated as well as return a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.
In further good news, Australia’s costly hotel and home quarantine will be scrapped for returning travellers.
Even though Australia’s coronavirus infection rates are far lower than those in many other countries, the country has had some of the world’s strictest border rules – even banning its own people from leaving the country.
As it stands, citizens can leave Australia – which has recorded more than 107,000 cases of Covid-19 and just over 1,300 deaths – only for exceptional reasons, such as essential work or visiting a dying relative.
The policy was praised for helping to suppress Covid, but it has also controversially separated families.
The decision to reopen the border will help clear a backlog of more than 40,000 Australian citizens and residents who have been stuck overseas and unable to secure, or afford, commercial flights home.
© 2021 BERNARD O’RIORDAN (TRAVEL INSTINCT). ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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