Tue. Dec 7th, 2021
Qantas Airbus A330 reg: VH-EBJ. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

(26 Sep 2021)
The Qantas Group has updated its flying schedule in
response to the reopening plans and latest border assumptions in
Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.

The key domestic changes are:

– Bringing forward the reopening date for travel
between Victoria and New South Wales from 1 December to 5 November
2021, based on Victoria’s reopening plan;

– Significantly increasing regional flying within
New South Wales from 25 October 2021, in line with the State
Government’s roadmap, to around 40 per cent of pre-COVID levels;
and

– Delaying the restart of domestic flying between
Western Australia and Victoria / New South Wales by two months to
1 February 2022, based on border assumptions.

Qantas Airbus A330 reg: VH-EBJ. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

Qantas will continue to operate five return
flights a week between Perth and both Sydney and Melbourne to
maintain minimum connections for those with permits to travel.

There is no change to Qantas or Jetstar flights
between WA, Tasmania, Northern Territory and South Australia.
Flights between WA and Queensland will increase once border
restrictions are removed.

Internationally, flights are still on track to
gradually restart from 18 December 2021 onwards when Australia is
expected to have reached National Cabinet’s ‘Phase C’ vaccination
threshold of 80 per cent. However, as previously flagged, Qantas
will temporarily reroute its flagship Perth-London service until
at least April 2022 due to the latest WA border settings and
assumptions.

Qantas is in detailed discussions with the NT
Government and Darwin Airport to assess operating the direct
London flight from Darwin during this time. The national carrier
has successfully used Darwin as a hub for its repatriation flights
to various destinations across Europe, Asia and the Middle East
over the past 12 months.

The discussions for what would be a daily
Melbourne-Darwin-London service focus on the logistics of domestic
and international transit under the current NT Government Plan for
COVID-Management at Stage 3 of the National Plan.

If the service can’t operate through Darwin, it
will instead fly Melbourne-Singapore-London until at least April
2022. A decision on the exact routing is likely to be made within
the next two weeks.

Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, said, “It’s great to
see plans firming up for some domestic borders opening given the
success of the national vaccine rollout. We’re now planning to
ramp up flying between Melbourne and Sydney, which is usually the
second busiest air route in the world, almost a month earlier than
expected. There are also a lot of regional destinations that will
open up for the first time since June, which is great news for
tourism as well as family and friends who can’t wait to see each
other again. Get ready to see some emotional reunions at airports
from late-October onwards.

“Based on our discussions with Western Australia
we know their borders won’t be open to New South Wales and
Victoria until early next year, so we’ve sadly had to cancel the
flying we had planned on those routes in the lead-up to Christmas.
We will maintain a minimum service for people with permits to
travel, though, as we have throughout the pandemic.

“At this stage, WA doesn’t intend to open to
international travel until sometime next year, so we’ll
unfortunately have to temporarily move our Perth-London service
until at least April 2022. Instead of operating from Melbourne to
Perth and then on to London as it usually does, this flight will
operate from Melbourne to London via either Darwin or Singapore,
depending on conversations we’re having with the NT in the coming
weeks. We look forward to operating this flight via Perth again
when circumstances allow.

“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. 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 per cent 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.

“The key factor in determining the ongoing demand
level for international flying will be what the quarantine
arrangements are for Australians when they return. The seven day
home quarantine trial in New South Wales is a great step forward
and we’re hoping the system evolves quickly for vaccinated
travellers from low-risk countries to not have to quarantine on
arrival, particularly given Australia itself is on track to have
one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. ”

International flights remain subject to Government
and Regulatory approval.

Should State or Federal roadmaps change and
flights are cancelled, customers may, depending on the terms of
the ticket, be eligible for a refund, credit voucher or to change
the date of their travel.

See latest

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