Australia is on track to reach the National Cabinet’s ‘Phase C’ vaccination threshold of 80 per cent in December 2021. That target has particular implications for travellers and the aviation industry, because the high vaccination rate is expected to trigger the phased reopening of international borders.
The Qantas Group is moving forward with plans to resume international flights. As borders open, CEO Alan Joyce has confirmed that they are likely to fly to new routes. Although Joyce is yet to confirm the new destinations, a return to countries like South Korea and Taiwan after 16+ years is seeming probable due to demand and Covid-safe travel possibilities.
Destinations with high vaccination rates will be the airline’s initial focus. These include North America, UK, Singapore and Japan from December 2021. In addition to Singapore, London and Los Angeles, Qantas will recommence flights to Tokyo, Vancouver, Fiji and Honolulu.
In a recent interview Mr Joyce said “We are of the belief there will be strong demand for people flying directly into the UK and east coast of the United States post-Covid.” Due to this demand, Joyce added that five A380s will be back in service a year ahead of schedule to fly between the UK and USA from mid-2022. He’s also keen to revisit ‘Project Sunrise’ and its non-stop services from Sydney to London and New York.
Countries with high or increasing levels of vaccination are the most likely to be declared low risk countries and have reduced quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers. It’s reliant on pending decisions by the Australian Government and entry policies of other countries, but Qantas has already confirmed that the airline will require proof of vaccination before flying.
“Qantas will have a policy that internationally, we’ll only be carrying vaccinated passengers, because we think that’s going to be one of the requirements to show that you’re flying safe in getting into those countries,” said Joyce.
Qantas flights to destinations that still have low vaccine rates and high levels of COVID infection will now be pushed out from December 2021 until April 2022. These routes include Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg.