The Australian government has recruited flag-carrier Qantas to operate a series of eight repatriation flights from London, Delhi, and Johannesburg. The flights will be operated by 787-9 Dreamliners and take 175 passengers each. Upon arrival, travelers must submit to a 14-day quarantine, most in an old mining camp outside Darwin.
While Qantas may be a long way away from returning to regular scheduled international services, there are still Australians abroad who need to get home. As such, the flag-carrier has once more entered into an agreement with the federal government to bring stranded Aussies back from London, Delhi, and Johannesburg.
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Eight flights until the end of November
The initial program is for eight flights over the coming six weeks, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said in a statement. The first two flights will depart from London on October 22nd and Delhi on October 26th. Each flight will take 175 passengers, all excluded from the 5,000 weekly international arrivals cap currently in place in Australia.
Two more flights will follow from London on November 7th and 11th, while the subsequent Delhi departures are set for November 9th, 23rd, and 27th. The date for the Johannesburg flight is yet to be confirmed. Qantas will operate all services with a 787-9 Dreamliner.
Obligatory quarantine in old mining camp
The Australian government is reserving a quarantine center in an old mining camp in Howard Springs, just outside of Darwin in the Northern Territory for the returnees, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The facilities will be able to house about 1,000 people per month. As there are around 29,000 Australians registered as wishing to return, this could take a while. The plan is to bring back at least 5,000 people over the next six months.
A fairly costly journey home
The DFAT has stated it is prioritizing those who are most vulnerable in terms of health or finances to purchase tickets. Meanwhile, Qantas says it is operating the flights on a cost-recovery basis. The set price for a one-way economy ticket from London is AU$2,150 ($1,500) per person, which is not precisely an intangible sum for those “most financially vulnerable.”
To get back home from Johannesburg is slightly more affordable, at AU$1,750 ($1,240), and from New Delhi cheaper still at AU$1,500 ($1,060). However, this is only part of the expenses for those wishing to return.
Flights from London and New Delhi will touch down at Darwin’s RAAF base. Passengers will then be transferred to the Howard Springs quarantine center, and individuals must pay AU$2,500 ($1,770) in hotel quarantine fees. Families will be charged AU$5,000 ($3,540). The destination of the Johannesburg flight is yet to be determined.
Since the start of the pandemic, Qantas has flown over 100 dedicated repatriation missions. However, these will be the first international flights that Qantas has operated since June. Alan Joyce, Qantas’ CEO, said in a statement seen by Simple Flying,
“I’d like to thank not only the crew who are volunteering to operate on these services but the many people behind the scenes who make sure these flights happen, particularly to cities where we don’t typically operate to.”
The leg from Syndey via Perth to London is also bookable via Qantas’ website, and will depart on October 19t and November 4th, and 8th.
Have you been affected by Australia closing its borders? Have you been trying to get home? What do you think of the repatriation scheme? Let us know in the comments.