QantasLink Dash 8 takeoff from Sydney Airport
Vaccinated Sydneysiders will once again be able to travel to regional NSW destinations from late October 2021. Photo: Matt Graham.

Update (15 October 2021): Regional travel within NSW has been delayed by a week until 1 November 2021.

The NSW government has confirmed that regional travel within NSW will be able to resume in late October 2021 for people who are fully vaccinated, and early December for everyone else.

Under the NSW government’s 3-stage reopening plan announced yesterday, vaccinated NSW residents will gain a little more freedom once 70% of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is currently on track to happen around 11 October 2021.

Then, once the state reaches 80% double-dose vaccination coverage, regional travel within NSW will once again be permitted for vaccinated individuals. The premier expects this milestone to be reached “by the end of October”, with 25 October tentatively forecast as the date when this could happen.

"Utes in the Paddock" in Condobolin, NSW
Get ready for a road trip! NSW residents will be able to visit regional destinations like Condobolin, home to the “Utes in the Paddock” exhibition, from late October. Photo: Matt Graham.

85% of eligible NSW residents have already received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Airlines prepare to increase flights

Qantas announced yesterday that it’s preparing to significantly ramp up regional flights within NSW from 25 October 2021, in line with the state’s reopening plan. This will see routes like Sydney-Ballina increase from the current 2x weekly QantasLink flights and 4x weekly Virgin flights to up to three QantasLink flights per day, three Virgin flights per day – plus an additional five daily Jetstar flights.

Byron bay lighthouse
Airlines expect a surge in demand for flights to Ballina/Byron Bay. Photo: Matt Graham.

Meanwhile, Rex expects to resume its domestic and regional services from 31 October 2021. Rex has been operating a skeleton regional network within NSW and Victoria over the past few months and has not operated any Boeing 737 jet services since mid-July.

Qantas expects to resume Sydney-Melbourne flights on 5 November

Qantas also announced yesterday that it has brought forward the planned resumption of regular Sydney-Melbourne flights to 5 November 2021, based on the Victorian government’s roadmap.

While the Victorian roadmap doesn’t specifically state that interstate travel will resume from 5 November, it does say that Victoria expects 80% of its residents aged 16 and over to be fully vaccinated by around this date. This will trigger “Phase C” of the National Cabinet’s reopening plan, which may include measures like a restoration of higher international arrival caps and the removal of interstate travel restrictions for vaccinated people.

Victoria currently classifies all parts of NSW as either a “red zone” or “extreme risk zone”, making travel from NSW to Victoria very difficult.


You can discuss COVID-19 travel restrictions and other topics related to coronavirus on AFF’s Coronavirus & Travel forum.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]


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