Australia is set to reopen its international borders for fully vaccinated residents at the beginning of next month. However, flights have remained as expensive as before the pandemic, making holidays abroad for many no more a reality than over the past year. That could be about to change as both national and foreign airlines are gearing up to increase capacity. Perhaps, more can now make it home for Christmas.
Qantas moving flights forward
Australian flag carrier Qantas said Friday it would move the restart of its flights from Melbourne and Sydney to destinations such as London, Singapore, Bangkok, and Johannesburg forward. Sydney to London (with a stop in Darwin) and Sydney to Los Angeles are the first out of the gate. Flights will recommence on November 1st, operating five and four times per week, respectively. However, Qantas says that it may add more flights to meet demand.
Melbourne to London will commence November 6th, a full six weeks ahead of schedule. Qantas will operate a 787 Dreamliner on the route twice per week to begin, ramping it up to daily by December 18th. Qantas is also preparing to launch a new route from Sydney to Delhi on December 6th. This is good news for stranded Australians who, despite now being able to return, could not find any available airline seats before the holidays.
A380s back earlier than expected
Furthermore, the airline has announced the return of two of its Airbus A380s to service earlier than planned. They will operate on flights to Los Angeles from April 2022. Another three will come back in November of the same year. Qantas is also in talks with Boeing over the potential acceleration of the delivery of three brand new Dreamliners that have remained in storage throughout the pandemic.
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The decision of the federal government, New South Wales, and Victoria to reopen borders also means that all 11,000 Qantas employees that remain stood down will now be asked to come back to work in December. The airline previously expected this to occur no sooner than summer next year.
Singapore and Cathay making strong returns
However, the national airline is not the only carrier to reboot its capacity as quarantine is scrapped for double-jabbed returning residents of NSW and Victoria. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Singapore Airlines will make close to 4,250 seats available to Melbourne, also returning to the country with the A380. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific will return to full pre-pandemic capacity, operating nine weekly flights to the Victorian coastal city.
Tourism has to wait
For the time being, only fully vaccinated Australians and their immediate family, which now includes parents, will be allowed to travel to Australia. States have also proposed quotas for the arrival of international students. However, tourists or other temporary visa holders are still barred from entry. It will not be until Australia finally opens its borders in earnest (which is expected to be some time next year) that we will see capacity truly resemble something of its pre-pandemic glory days.
Have you or someone you know booked a ticket to or from Australia since the news of the borders reopening? Tell us about it in the comment section below.