Qantas won’t resume long-haul flying until October 2021

Feb 25, 2021

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Australia’s flag carrier doesn’t expect to be transporting international passengers any time soon. Qantas announced on Thursday local time that it won’t resume most of its international flying until at least October 2021.

In mid-2020, Qantas announced that it expected to resume long-haul flying in July 2021. However, Thursday’s announcement pushes that date back by four months until 31 October.

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As of the 31 October date, Qantas plans to resume flying to a total of 22 of its 25 pre-COVID-19 international destinations, including London, Los Angeles, Singapore and Johannesburg. However, it doesn’t plan initially to relaunch direct flights to New York, Santiago and Osaka, but it will at some point.

Even when Qantas does resume its long-haul operations, it won’t be at the same pre-pandemic levels. The carrier said that capacity levels will be lower, including frequencies offered on specific routes and the aircraft it elects to use to operate those routes.

Related: Qantas latest in growing list of airlines to launch scenic flight to nowhere

The delay in the resumption of long-haul flying coincides with the expected timeline for Australia’s rollout of the vaccine. Just this past week, Australia began distributing the vaccine and it expects to offer a vaccine to every adult by the end of October.

In November 2020, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that COVID-19 vaccinations would be “a necessity” for international flights and in order for travel to return to pre-pandemic levels. Joyce also said the carrier would bring back its fleet of Airbus A380s.

Qantas doesn’t expect demand to pick back up until at least 2024. But, it is working with respective parties about the possibility of implementing digital health pass apps in order to resume travel sooner. More specifically, it’s working with the CommonPass and IATA Travel Pass apps currently on the carrier’s repatriation flights.

Related: Forget ‘nowhere’ — Qantas launches ‘scenic flight to somewhere’ with overnight stay

While Qantas doesn’t see international travel returning at any level until at least October, closer to home, the carrier is planning to resume its short-haul flying network sooner. Qantas and Jetstar are planning to significantly increase flights to and from New Zealand as of 1 July 2021.

In January, Australia’s Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy said that the country’s borders would likely remain closed for much of 2021. It’s still unclear when the country plans to reopen to tourism.

Featured photo by Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

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