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Qantas reopens bookings for international flights from July

January 6, 2021 Headline News 2 Comments

Qantas has backed its determination to resume international travel later this year by reopening bookings for international flights from July.

After placing its international network in hibernation in 2020 (with the exception of a skeleton service to New Zealand) Qantas has started taking bookings for flights across its international network from 1 July 2021.

The airline has already stated that passengers travelling internationally (other than those just flying the Tasman) will require vaccination against Covid-19 before boarding – a wise precaution. Vaccinations are due to start rolling out in Australia at the end of the first quarter, though how the pandemic will progress throughout this year is a great unknown.

A trans-Tasman “travel bubble” between Australia and New Zealand is slated for the first half of this year, provided Australia can subdue or eliminate its troublesome periodic eruptions of Covid-19.

Qantas already planned to resume flights to Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong from the end of March. It has now gone further, reopening bookings to the US and London – routes which were previously pulled from the schedule with no resumption planned until the final quarter of this year.

Last week, Qantas and Japan Airlines (JAL) announced plans to form a new joint business to serve routes between Australia, New Zealand and Japan “and support the tourism industry’s recovery when international flying resumes”.

The two airlines have submitted an application for authorisation to regulators in Australia and New Zealand, with a decision expected within six months. If approval is granted, the joint business would start about July 2021. Very timely.

There is no certainty about when travel from Australia will be allowed to begin. Australian citizens and permanent residents are currently banned from leaving the country, unless they first secure an exemption permit from the Department of Home Affairs. Mandatory two-week quarantine periods, to be served in hotels at a traveller’s own expense, are required when entering New Zealand and some other countries, and when entering Australia.

Moreover, Executive Traveller has noted that “a handful of destinations are missing” from the Qantas July 2021 inventory.

As the publication points out, the most notable omission is New York – where JFK Airport was previously served by Qantas with a B787 Dreamliner via Los Angeles. Also, plans for direct Brisbane-Chicago flights, a service Qantas aimed to launch in April 2020 (before the pandemic changed everything), have yet to be revived.

Vaccination will be the key to lifting the border restrictions and flying internationally. Australia’s Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, expects Australians will be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of October 2021, “on the basis that it’s free, universal and entirely voluntary”.

“We want to urge as many Australians to be vaccinated as possible,” Hunt said a week or two ago, “and we’ve seen some very heartening reports over the weekend of an expected uptake of up to 80%.”

If that forecast is correct, what about the other 20% of the Australian population – the unvaccinated?

If they wish to fly internationally, the unvaccinated may have to travel on an airline other than Qantas – if they can find one. Other airlines may well follow the Qantas example. Given the reluctance of most travellers to share an aircraft cabin with people who refuse to be vaccinated against a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease, few airlines will be seeking the custom of anti-vaxxers.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. gnits says:

    ….reluctance of most travellers to share aircraft cabin with those unvaxed…. ok… i’m assuming those so called reluctant travelers are vaxed… hmmmm…….correct me if i’m wrong but what i know is if a person is vaxed the person is therefore immunised… so why would the vaxed travellers feel uncomfortable sharing cabin with unvaxed pax…

  2. Peter Needham says:

    That’s a good point gnits. Some people cannot be immunised, for instance if they have previously had severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to vaccine ingredients, or people suffering certain health conditions. I guess airlines have to cover themselves against any problem which might arise from inadvertently allowing Covid-19 aboard – and also to look after their own crew (though I would expect crew would all be vaccinated; certainly those on Qantas.)
    – Peter Needham

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