Qantas has rung in the New Year with an upbeat note of confidence in the belief that COVID-19 vaccinations and pre-flight testing will help to restart international travel. Hinting at a return of overseas vacations, the Australian national flag carrier has said that international flights could resume in six months. Its reservations system is now open for international booking from July 2021.
With advertising that it will take bookings for international flights from July 2021, Qantas is now accepting reservations for flights to flagship destinations like the United Kingdom and the United States. Both destinations were previously not expected to return until at least October.
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Qantas flies to New Zealand
Currently, the only international route Qantas flies is to its Oceanic neighbor New Zealand, a country that has done a stellar job of keeping coronavirus in check. In what appears to be a reboot of all international flights on July 1, Qantas has now scrapped plans to resume flights to Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong on March 29.
Australian business traveler and premium frequent flyer website Executive Traveller quotes a Qantas spokesperson as saying the following:
“Qantas has aligned the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021. We continue to review and update our international schedule in response to the developing COVID-19 situation.”
New York is missing
One notable destination that has been omitted from the Qantas schedule is flights to New York City. Previously, Qantas operated a Boeing 787 between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Its proposed flights between Brisbane Airport (BNE) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) that were supposed to commence in 2020 are also not listed.
Flights between Sydney Airport (SYD) and Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago, Chile, will remain suspended. At the same time, Qantas will resume its 14-hour non-stop flights between Sydney and O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
When speaking at the Australian airline’s 2020 general meeting back in October, Executive Traveller quotes Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce as saying the following:
“For some of our big destinations like the United States and the UK, it’s going to need a vaccine given the high prevalence of the virus in both of those locations.
“But we are getting more and more confident about the opportunities and the potential for a vaccine in helping getting those operations up by potentially by the end of 2021.”
Previously the airline’s boss said vaccinations would be mandatory for all international destinations not included in any travel bubbles with Australia.
The UK and USA have begun vaccinations
Currently, both the United Kingdom and the United States have started to vaccinate their populations with Pfizers temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccine. The UK will also, from today, start using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine following its recent approval.
Meanwhile, down under, Australia is still to approve the use of either vaccine for its population.
The Australian federal government has a purchase agreement for ten million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and around 54 million doses of the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine. Regulatory approval for both vaccines is expected to happen in early February.
Both vaccines require people to be given two doses, a starter and a booster administered with a gap of between two and four weeks. The COVID-19 vaccine will be administered free of charge to all Australian residents, with the first doses going to frontline health workers followed by the elderly and those deemed high risk. Australia predicts that its entire population will have been vaccinated for COVID-19 by October 2021.
Are you as optimistic as Qantas is about resuming international flights in July, or do you think it is still too soon? Please tell us what you think in the comments.