Qantas Airlines, the flag carrier of Australia, have announced they are planning to restart international passenger flights to most destinations from October 31st, 2021. That also applies to Jetstar, the lower-priced carrier owned by the company.
This is a four-month extension from the previous estimate of July 2021, which had been in place since mid-2020.
Australians Have Been Locked Down
Australia has been one of the most locked down countries in the world not allowing their citizens to leave the country for tourism or non-essential travel. Australians have had to apply for special permission before being approved to travel internationally.
Australia’s immunization program began this week. The government expects to inoculate four million by March and that the vaccine will be made available to anyone who wants it by October.
The end of October date for the resumption of international flights aligns with the expected timeframe for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to be effectively completed.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce has said that “The vaccine changes everything. With the vaccine rollout already underway, we’re on the right track.”
The airline has stated that they remain “ in close consultation with the Federal Government around the reopening of international borders and will keep customers updated if further adjustments are required.”
The Australian government will have the final say on the resumption of international travel, taking into account vaccines’ effectiveness in reducing virus transmission.
Routes Qantas Is Planning To Restart In October
They won’t initially resume direct flights to New York, Santiago, and Osaka, but 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, including flights to Bangkok, Seoul, and Tokyo.
In the statement, the company said that “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 exception is New Zealand. Both airlines are planning for a significant increase in flights to and from New Zealand from July 1st, 2021, with the rollout of a two-way travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.
Passengers Will Have to be Vaccinated
Qantas was the first airline in the world to announce that it is likely to require its passengers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before traveling.
A representative for Qantas says that the airline is looking into vaccine passports that will verify whether a passenger has been vaccinated. Some countries have already stated they will allow vaccinated travelers without quarantining and testing upon arrival, an important step to reopening the global tourism industry.
Qantas is also looking into digital health pass apps to help support the resumption of safe international travel. The CommonPass and IATA Travel Pass smartphone apps are being trialed on the airline’s international repatriation flights.
Additional flexibility and extension of credit vouchers
Qantas also announced additional flexibility for international bookings. The “Fly Flexible” policy, which was previously only available for domestic and Trans Tasman flights, now applies to all international flights booked from today until the end of April 2021.
This means passengers can change the date of their flight to any available for sale at the time (up to 355 days in advance) with no change fee. The fare difference will still apply.
In addition, both Qantas and Jetstar have extended credit vouchers until December 31st, 2023, on domestic or international flights.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com