Qantas said it plans to reopen flights between Melbourne and Sydney a month earlier than originally planned, based on “latest border assumptions” in Victoria and New South Wales.
Travel between Victoria and NSW was originally slated for December 1, but this has now been brought forward to November 5, based on Victoria’s reopening plans.
Qantas added it would ramp up regional flights within NSW from October 25 to around 40% of pre-COVID levels, in line with the NSW government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The flag carrier also assured it was still on track to gradually resume international flights from December 18, when Australia is expected to reach its 80% vaccination threshold.
Last week, Australia’s Trade Minister Dan Tehan said fully vaccinated Australians will be able to travel outbound without any limitations by Christmas.
He noted, however, that the ability for Australians to travel overseas without quarantine would be dependent on the requirements put in place by other countries.
Further, Qantas said based on the latest Western Australia border closures and assumptions, it would temporarily reroute its Perth to London service until at least April 2022. To supplement these plans, the airline said it was in “detailed discussions” with the Northern Territory government and Darwin Airport to see if it could operate daily Melbourne to Darwin to London services during this time.
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Qantas has been using Darwin for its repatriation flights from various Europe, Asia, and Middle East destinations over the past 12 months.
The airline noted if the London service was unable to operate through Darwin, it would instead fly Melbourne to Singapore to London until at least April 2022, with the decision on the exact route to be made within the next fortnight.
Restarting additional domestic flights between Western Australia and Victoria and NSW would also be delayed by two months to 1 February 2022, based on border assumptions, Qantas said. Although, five return flights a week will continue to operate between Perth and both Sydney and Melbourne to maintain services for those with permits to travel.
Flights between Western Australia and Queensland are also expected to increase once border restrictions are removed. Qantas anticipates this will happen in the coming weeks.
“We’re in regular discussions with all the states and territories, and will continue to make adjustments, including increasing flying as soon as border settings allow,” Qantas boss Alan Joyce said.
“The pace of the vaccine rollout means we’re still on track for international flying to restart from 18 December onwards. People are clearly keen to travel. We saw a 175% spike in web searches in the week after we announced our plans and we’ve seen strong bookings for December and January for our flights to London, Los Angeles, and Singapore in particular.”