Qantas has officially announced it will bring forward its planned restart date for international flights to 14 November, following the federal government’s announcement that Australia’s international borders will open next month.
Qantas said on Friday that this date may be altered in the future, once the government confirms an exact date for the reopening of international borders.
“Flights will be brought forward if [this date] is earlier than 14 November or moved to later in the month, if necessary,” Qantas said.
As it stands, the Flying Kangaroo confirmed it will operate three weekly return flights between Sydney and London, as well as three weekly return flights between Sydney and Los Angeles, both on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from 14 November.
The airline said those are the two routes that have been the most searched on its website in recent weeks.
The airline will add more flights to meet increased demand, if needed.
Customers booked on these first flights will have the flexibility to make “fee-free” date changes for travel until 31 December 2022, though a fare difference may apply. If flights are cancelled, customers may also be eligible for a refund or credit voucher.
Furthermore, as the airline previously suggested, all passengers on Qantas international flights will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved or recognised vaccine, as well as return a negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours prior to departure.
“The early reopening of Australia’s international borders will mean so much to so many people and it’s made possible by the amazing ramp-up of the vaccine rollout,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
“We know Australians can’t wait to travel overseas and be reunited with their loved ones, and literally thousands are waiting to come back home, so this faster restart is fantastic news. It also means we can get more of our people back to work, sooner.”
“We welcome the federal government’s decision and the work by the New South Wales government to facilitate the home quarantine approach that makes this feasible. We look forward to other states and territories getting on board.”
Joyce said the airline had already sold out of some of its international flights, slated for mid-December, and has seen “strong demand” for flights to London and LA, specifically.
“We’re confident there will be a lot of interest in these earlier services,” he said.
“We know many frequent flyers have been stockpiling their points over the past 18 months to use on an overseas flight, so we’re making more seats available to be booked with points alone,” he added.
Joyce noted that “ongoing demand for international flights” is going to “hinge largely” on how the government chooses to navigate quarantine requirements moving forward.
“The shift to seven-day home quarantine for fully vaccinated Australians with a negative test is a great step towards reducing this closer to what is becoming standard in many countries overseas, which is a test and release program,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that fully vaccinated citizens and residents will be able to leave the country freely and return without hotel quarantine in November.
The new requirements, which will kick in once states hit 80 per cent double-dose inoculation, will see those arriving back in the country being asked to quarantine at home for seven days.
The government will also announce a number of quarantine-free travel bubbles in the coming weeks, which will see the country able to welcome tourists for the first time in 18 months.
“It’s time to give Australians their lives back,” said Prime Minister Morrison. “Let’s get vaccinated and get on with it.”
The long-awaited vaccine passport for international travel is also set to be rolled out “in the coming weeks”.
Qantas bullishly predicted back in August that Australia’s international borders would open by December due to its strong vaccine rollout, and later confirmed that it would restart flights from 18 December.
In mid-September, Qantas confirmed the first flights from Australia to London, LA, Vancouver and Singapore will depart on 18 December, with flights to Tokyo, Fiji and Honolulu being reinstated in the two days following.