This article contains an updated summary of the most important coronavirus news that is relevant to Australian frequent flyers as of Monday, 30 March 2020. It specifically covers the implications of COVID-19 in terms of travel and loyalty programs. For the latest health advice, we recommend checking Australian government updates and the latest World Health Organization advice.
This article was last updated at 8am (AEDT) on 30 March 2020.
Latest Smartraveller advice
A good place to get travel advice updates from the Australian government is the Smartraveller website.
The Smartraveller advice from 26 March continues to remain in effect:
On 24 March the Prime Minister announced a ban on all overseas travel, with few exceptions.
This is on top of our standing advice from 18 March to not travel overseas at this time.
While there are still commercial options available to return to Australia, take them.
International arrivals quarantined in hotels
All international arriving in Australia since yesterday are now being quarantined in government-designated hotels for 14 days upon arrival. Tasmania also introduced a similar requirement of its own overnight.
Australian regional airlines receive $300 million support package
After warning that some could go out of business as soon as next week, Australia’s regional airlines have received a $300 million support package from the federal government. The funding will be used to subsidise services to 138 regional communities across Australia that rely on aviation.
Qantas and Virgin are excluded from this particular package. The government has not ruled out further support for our major airlines, but has ruled out nationalisation of any airline.
Massive boost for Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines has secured around AU$21.5 billion in additional funding to help it get through the coronacrisis.
It has become clear throughout this crisis that few airlines will survive without government assistance. Singapore Airlines is one airline, at least, that should make it through.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club status extensions
Qatar Airways has joined the list of airlines to be offering status extensions to its frequent flyers. Qatar Airways Privilege Club members will be offered an additional 12 months of status, and Qcredits (equivalent to status credits) will last for two years instead of one.
Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines to continue flying to Australia next month. In fact, Qatar Airways has increased capacity and added a new Brisbane-Doha service to operate throughout April. Read more: Qatar Airways Adds Flights to Australia
China bans most foreigners, Russia bans international flights
China is now refusing entry to most foreigners (with some exceptions), and has temporarily stopped issuing visas on arrival including transit visas.
More unusual airlines flying to Australia to repatriate citizens
An Austrian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER will arrive in Sydney at around 12.40pm today, after flying non-stop from Vienna to Sydney. It will depart Sydney tomorrow to repatriate Austrian citizens back to their home country, with a stop in Penang.
Over the weekend, LOT Polish Airlines flew from Sydney to Warsaw via Singapore and Lufthansa flew a Boeing 747 from Auckland to Frankfurt via Tokyo. And yesterday, four Condor aircraft departed Perth bound for Frankfurt via Phuket, to return stranded cruise ship passengers to Germany.
A LATAM Airlines flight chartered by Chimu Adventures is due to depart Peru today with 260 Australians on board, and a second charter flight is now being planned from Montevideo, Uruguay to Sydney after plans for a Buenos Aires-Sydney flight had to be abandoned. But there are still many Australians stuck in South America that have been unable to secure a seat on one of these flights.
More repatriation flights are likely in the weeks ahead.
Australian Frequent Flyer has set up a new forum for news & discussion about COVID-19: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Discussion