Qantas has resumed ticket sales for international routes beginning July, hinting that Australia’s border restrictions will ease and vaccinations will become more prevalent by the second half of 2021.
The Oneworld alliance carrier’s reservations system currently indicates that Trans-Tasman flights to New Zealand will operate from March 28 onwards, in anticipation of a two-way travel bubble.
In addition, the majority of Qantas’ international services, such as flights to Hong Kong, London, and Tokyo, are now scheduled to resume on July 1, instead of in October as initially announced.
Other ultra long-haul routes, including Chicago, New York, and Santiago de Chile, will be among the last to restart on October 31, according to the Aeronetwork.
“Recently we have aligned the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021,” said the airline, according to Bloomberg.
“We continue to review and update our international schedule in response to the developing Covid-19 situation.”
Australia’s borders have been closed to travellers, with the exception of returning citizens and permanent residents, since March. Australians are also barred from leaving the country, with exceptions few and far between.
The suppressed demand has led to the flag carrier grounding its entire international network, apart from government-organised repatriation flights. In November, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce also said vaccinations will be required for travel once the carrier resumes international flights.
However, Australia’s transport minister Michael McCormack, responded less enthusiastically to speculation on the border reopening timing:
“International borders will be opened when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians. Decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian government.
“The Australian government is working on travel arrangements with countries, such as New Zealand, that have low community infections. Operations and ticket sales on particular routes are commercial decisions for airlines.”
The country saw a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in New South Wales and Victoria last month, causing a flurry of domestic border restrictions and other health measures to be reimposed.