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First uncapped international flights enter Australia after nearly 2 years

written by Hannah Dowling | November 1, 2021

The iconic ‘Yam Dreaming’ VH-ZND performed the first uncapped quarantine-free Qantas flight into Australia on Monday morning (Richard Kreider)

The first uncapped and quarantine-free international flights carrying fully-vaccinated Australian citizens and residents touched down in Sydney on Monday morning, after nearly two years of strict border restrictions.

The Australian government officially lifted its formal ban of overseas travel last week, in the days ahead of NSW and Victoria welcoming double-jabbed Australian citizens and residents from overseas with no form of quarantine required.

Previously, citizens and residents were banned from leaving Australia, and a tight cap was introduced on the number of arrivals allowed in from overseas, in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The first flight to touch down following the international border opening was Singapore Airlines flight SQ221 from Singapore. The Airbus A350, 9V-SHV, departed Singapore at 7:14pm on Sunday local time, and landed at Sydney nearly an hour ahead of schedule at 5:21am.

Singapore Airlines announced early on Monday that the airline will return around 2,500 Australians to Sydney and Melbourne this week alone.

SQ221 was followed shortly by Qantas flight QF12 from Los Angeles, which landed at 6:04am. The inaugural Qantas quarantine-free international flight was performed by VH-ZND, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that last week was seen ambushed by a tornado at Brisbane Airport.

The aircraft underwent inspections in Brisbane and Melbourne and Qantas later confirmed that no serious damage was inflicted on the aircraft.


Japan Airlines flight JL51 from Tokyo was the third flight to land at Sydney at 6:18am on Monday, also performed by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Meanwhile, Melbourne will see its first uncapped international arrivals, who will also not be required to quarantine, at around 10am Monday, with flights due to arrive from both Singapore and Auckland.

Fully-vaccinated Australians are now also free to leave the country for the first time in 20 months, with flights scheduled to Singapore (SQ212), Los Angeles (UA842) and Hong Kong (CX100) among those flights departing from Sydney on Monday.


The first outbound Qantas international flight is QF1 to London via Darwin, set to take off at 5:55pm.

Speaking of the first Qantas flights following the reopening of Australia’s international borders, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said, “This day has been a long time coming for our people and our customers. It’s wonderful to see Australians able to reunite with loved ones after such a long time apart.”

“International travel may be a little different for a while with some new requirements and guidelines in place, but one thing that hasn’t changed is Qantas’ commitments to safety and premium service. We are absolutely thrilled to welcome everyone back on board,” he added.

Qantas customer services supervisor on QF12, Adrienne Innes, said being back in the air was the highlight of her year.

“It was amazing to welcome back our passengers, and the whole team was really emotional and excited to be able to take care of them on their journey home.”

Comment (1)

  • Edward Ranasinghe


    Can double vaccinated TOURISTS enter Sydney now

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