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 Dec 1 to Nov 5, based on Victoria’s reopening plan;
Significantly increasing regional flying within New South Wales from Oct 25, in line with the State Government’s roadmap, to around 40 percent of pre-COVID levels; and
- Delaying the restart of domestic flying between Western Australia and Victoria / New South Wales by two months to Feb 1, 2022, based on border assumptions.
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 Dec 18 onwards when Australia is expected to have reached National Cabinet’s ‘Phase C’ vaccination threshold of 80 percent. 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.© Travel News Asia