Qantas Brings Forward International Flights, New Planes

Qantas Brings Forward International Flights, New Planes
Qantas is resuming regular international flights from Sydney from next month. Photo: Qantas.

Qantas will resume international flights to Singapore, Fiji, Thailand and South Africa sooner than previously planned, as well as launching a new route from Sydney to Delhi in December.

The airline has already announced that it will resume flights from Sydney to London and Los Angeles from 1 November 2021, with the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney also reopening from this date. With Victoria now removing inbound quarantine requirements from next month, Qantas will also now relaunch Melbourne-London flights from 6 November 2021, six weeks earlier than previously announced.

With more planes returning to the skies, this also means all 22,000 Australian-based Qantas and Jetstar employees will have the opportunity to return to work by early December 2021. Many of these staff have been stood down for over a year.

Australia will remove its outbound travel ban on 1 November 2021. From this date, NSW, ACT and Victoria will also allow international arrivals without quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers who test negative to COVID-19.

Tasmania will resume allowing quarantine-free interstate and international arrivals with a negative COVID-19 test on 15 December 2021. Queensland will follow two days later on 17 December, but Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says direct international arrivals will still need to quarantine at home for 14 days. We’re still waiting to hear from WA, SA and NT about their plans.

Qantas flights to Singapore

Qantas has brought forward the resumption of Melbourne-Singapore flights to 22 November 2021, and Sydney-Singapore to 23 November 2021 (instead of mid-December).

Qantas flights from both Melbourne and Sydney to Singapore will initially operate 3x weekly using A330s, and will increase to daily from 18 December 2021. From mid-December, Jetstar will also resume Melbourne-Singapore and Darwin-Singapore flights.

Australians are currently required to quarantine when arriving in Singapore. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that the Australian government is engaged in discussions with the Singaporean government about resuming quarantine-free travel between the two countries from next month. A further announcement is expected within the next few weeks, but it is likely that Australia could be added to Singapore’s list of Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries in time for the relaunch of Qantas flights to Singapore.

Singapore
Singapore is adding Vaccinated Travel Lanes from more countries. Photo: Timo Volz from Pexels.

Qantas flights to Fiji

With Fiji reopening to vaccinated travellers from 1 December, who will just need to quarantine at their resort for two days until they receive a negative COVID-19 test, Qantas has brought forward the resumption of its Boeing 737-800 flights from Sydney to Nadi. Instead of 19 December, Qantas will now fly to Nadi from 7 December 2021. Jetstar flights will still resume on 17 December.

Virgin Australia also recently brought forward the planned resumption of its flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to Nadi to 16 December. At the time of this announcement, this would have seen Virgin restarting flights to Fiji just before Qantas and Jetstar – but Qantas has now reclaimed this “honour”.

Thailand reopening to Australians

Thailand announced overnight that it will reopen to fully vaccinated tourists from 46 countries including Australia with negative COVID-19 tests, starting from 1 November 2021. To be eligible for quarantine-free travel to Thailand, you would need to have only been within the 46 eligible countries during the previous 21 days.

Qantas will resume international flights to Bangkok in December 2021
Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Braden Jarvis on Unsplash.

As a result, Qantas has now brought forward the start of its flights from Sydney to Bangkok to 14 January 2022 instead of late March 2022. Five A330 flights per week will run initially.

Jetstar is also bringing forward the resumption of its Sydney-Phuket flights, which will operate three times per week from 12 January 2022 using Boeing 787-8s.

Qantas returns to South Africa

The other big announcement from Qantas is the return of regular flights from Sydney to Johannesburg from 5 January 2022. These Boeing 787-9 services will initially resume 3x weekly, before ramping up to daily from the end of March (when these flights were originally forecast to resume).

Quarantine-free travel to Bali on the horizon?

While announcing these new international flights, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce also revealed his airline is engaged in dialogue with the Indonesian government about Bali opening up to fully vaccinated Australian tourists by Christmas.

Bali recently reopened to international tourists, but only for visitors from certain countries who arrive on direct international flights and quarantine for five days at their hotel after arrival. It seems these onerous requirements haven’t resulted in a flood of visitors, with no international airlines actually scheduling flights to Bali under the new arrangements.

Qantas has also said it won’t resume flights to Bali if five nights of quarantine are required for arriving visitors, as this would kill demand. But Joyce is hopeful the Indonesian government will allow vaccinated Australians to visit Bali by Christmas with no or reduced quarantine requirements. If this happens, Qantas’ low-cost arm Jetstar will quickly ramp up flights to Bali.

Denpasar, Bali
Qantas is in talks with the Indonesian government about reopening tourism travel to Bali. Photo: Guillaume Marques on Unsplash.

Qantas bringing forward aircraft deliveries

As Australian Frequent Flyer exclusively revealed a fortnight ago, Qantas does not currently have enough long-haul aircraft in its fleet to operate the international flight schedule it has on sale from the end of March 2022. With more international flights now resuming sooner than expected, that is going to increase the number of aircraft Qantas needs even further.

As a result, Joyce today announced Qantas will now be returning two of its double-decker Airbus A380s to the skies earlier than expected. Instead of 1 July 2022 as previously planned, Qantas will now resume A380 flights between Sydney and Los Angeles from April 2022.

The first of the 10 Qantas A380s to eventually be brought back will touch down in Australia on Christmas Day. From January until March, Qantas will then use that A380 to retrain its crew. The airline could even run some crew familiarisation flights with passengers on domestic routes.

Qantas will bring its Airbus A380s back on international flights from April 2022
Qantas will bring its Airbus A380s back into service from April 2022. Photo: Qantas.

Singapore Airlines and British Airways are also currently running short crew familiarisation flights in preparation for their A380s returning to long-haul routes including Singapore Airlines’ Sydney-Singapore route from 1 December 2021.

Qantas is now in discussions with Boeing to bring forward the delivery of its three Boeing 787-9 aircraft on order. Qantas had previously deferred the delivery of these planes until the 2022-23 financial year, but it seems they will now be needed sooner than this.

Qantas to offer COVID-19 travel insurance

One of the biggest unknowns at this point about the resumption of international travel is how travel insurance will work. In particular, what happens if you test positive to COVID-19 while overseas and are unable to board a flight home or are required to quarantine?

Speaking to Sky News, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce confirmed that Qantas Insurance would be offering travel insurance policies which covered this scenario. These policies will be underwritten by Allianz Insurance. Qantas COVID-19 travel insurance is not yet available for sale, but is likely to become available shortly.

Other travel insurers are also likely to start selling travel insurance appropriate to the current risk environment once the Australian government downgrades its travel advice for every other country (except New Zealand) from “Level 4 – Do Not Travel”.

Read more: Qantas Launches Sydney-Delhi Flights

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Predictions of when international flights may resume/bans lifted

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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]