Australia’s federal government had buried its budget for the next fiscal year that it won’t expect the international border to reopen before mid-2022 (after the next federal elections are over).
Australia expects to vaccinate its citizens by the end of 2021. Still, due to recent spikes in Covid019 infections in Asia, the government intends to take a very conservative view of international travel, creating headaches for Qantas that had planned to restart its global operations in October 2021.
Here’s an excerpt from ABC News:
The international border is expected to remain closed until mid-2022 and under the assumptions laid out in the budget, a quarantine program will remain in place, limiting overseas arrivals.
Some international travel may begin sooner, but the budget papers imply a gap between when borders fully reopen and when all Australians have access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The budget assumes that a population-wide vaccination program will be “in place” by the end of the year but it doesn’t provide an exact number of people to be vaccinated by then.
Here’s from the News.com:
“Inbound and outbound international travel is expected to remain low through to mid-2022, after which gradual recovery in international tourism is assumed to occur,” the budget papers read.
The PM had previously raised hopes that international travel could resume in October 2021.
Another their piece about problems for Qantas:
With the shock announcement that Australia’s international borders will remain largely slammed shut until mid-2022, the tourism industry is in panic mode after being dealt the biggest losing card from the federal budget.
In February – during Qantas’ half-year trading update, the airline said Qantas and Jetstar international flights would make a comeback from October 31, instead of July, as it previously forecast.
From that date, most of Qantas’ international routes would resume, including flights to London, Singapore and Los Angeles.
Announcement from Qantas:
The Federal Government has revised its anticipated timeline for the completion of Australia’s vaccine rollout to end-2021 and its timeline for significantly reopening our international borders to mid-2022.
In light of these two dates, the Qantas Group will adjust its planned international flights from end-October 2021 to late December 2021. (Trans Tasman flights are unchanged.) We remain optimistic that additional bubbles will open once Australia’s vaccine rollout is complete to countries who, by then, are in a similar position, but it’s difficult to predict which ones at this stage.
This planning assumption will allow the Qantas Group – and Australia – to be ready to take advantage of pockets of tourism and trade opportunity as they emerge in a post-COVID world.
We will keep reviewing these plans as we move towards December and circumstances evolve.
In the meantime, the Qantas Group will continue to provide critical repatriation and freight flights overseas, and support the recovery of travel at home. The resurgence of domestic travel remains the most important element of the Group’s recovery.
We will reach out directly to any customers with a booking between 31 October 2021 and 19 December 2021, however recent levels of uncertainty meant international booking levels were relatively low. Again, please note that Trans Tasman flights are unaffected.
A high number of calls to our contact centre is resulting in long wait times. We continue to add more resources in response but encourage customers who are not travelling in the next 24 hours to please wait for us to contact you directly regarding these latest changes.
It is an especially tricky situation for Qantas that had planned to restart its international operations at the end of October but now needs to delay the flights. The airline has only flown trans-Tasman and expatriation services.
Other airlines such as Qatar Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, United Airiness, American Airlines, and Delta, among others, have continued their flights to and from Australia.
It isn’t easy to estimate when travel to/from Australia is open again under acceptable terms.
There were suggestions on the Australian media that the border opening delay could be an election strategy for the country’s prime minister, as the federal elections are held in 2022.