Yesterday Qantas announced their intention to restart regular passenger operations to most major international destinations from 31 October 2021 but exactly how feasible is this plan?
Australia has now been shut down from/to the outside world for pretty much a year and previous announcements from airlines to restart operations were immediately rebuffed by the government.
Even now Australia has a highly restrictive quarantine and health control regime for incoming passengers (very small quota) and Australian citizens require a travel authorization to leave the country.
Qantas seem to expect these things will be relaxed later in the year and according to their Press Release flights will be back in the air from October 31, 2021.
Qantas and Jetstar are now planning to restart regular international passenger flights to most destinations from 31 October 2021 – a four month extension from the previous estimate of July, which had been in place since mid-2020.
The date change aligns with the expected timeframe for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to be effectively complete.
Capacity will be lower than pre-COVID levels, with frequencies and aircraft type deployed on each route in line with the projected recovery of international flying. International capacity is not expected to fully recover until 2024.
The Group remains in close consultation with the Federal Government around the reopening of international borders and will keep customers updated if further adjustments are required.
Qantas is assessing the use of digital health pass apps to help support the resumption of COVID-safe international travel. The CommonPass and IATA Travel Pass smartphone apps are being trialled on the airline’s international repatriation flights.
Qantas is planning to resume flights to 22 of its 25 pre-COVID international destinations including Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Johannesburg from 31 October 2021.
Qantas won’t initially resume direct flights to New York, Santiago and Osaka, but remains committed to flying to these three destinations. In the meantime, customers will be able to fly to these destinations under codeshare or oneworld arrangements with partner airlines.
Jetstar plans to resume flights to all of its 13 international destinations. Frequencies will be adjusted in line with the projected recovery of international flying.
Qantas and Jetstar are planning for a significant increase in flights to and from New Zealand from 1 July 2021.
The Group has the ability to respond to travel bubbles that may open.
Australia has just scrapped their one way travel bubble with New Zealand again after a new Covid cluster appeared in Auckland. This “zero Covid” policy as basis for AUS-NZ / Trans Tasman travel makes now sense because under these conditions it will never be a viable, ongoing solution. You can’t put such a system in place and every time when there is a Covid cluster in the partner country it will be scrapped again for weeks or months on end.
I don’t think that the vaccine rollout will be anywhere near complete by October to have a meaningful impact on full fledged international travel like Qantas is planning with their latest scheduling.
Maybe they can use this to finally bring the thousands of Australians back who are still stuck somewhere overseas due to the countries very low arrival quotas. So far they have relied of foreign carriers to shoulder this traffic while Qantas didn’t operate any long haul international passenger flight in forever.
Qantas is now planning for the case of flights to most international destinations resuming from late October 2021 and Trans-Tasman flying are ramping up from July 2021.
While the carrier can certainly schedule flights the real question is will passengers be allowed on it and what restrictions or requirements will that entail? Only time will tell and October 31st is still eight months away.