Australia’s oldest airline, Qantas, said it plans to resume international flights by the end of October, 2021.
The company, which turned 100 years old last November, released its half-year financial results recently and included the confirmation that it has a plan to restore international flights by the fall. That applies to both Qantas itself and to Jetstar, the lower-priced carrier also owned by the company. The airline also intends to ramp up trans-Tasman flights to New Zealand by July.
The particular time was chosen as the airline believes it will be in line with Australia’s country-wide COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
However, the flights are likely to look substantially different from before the coronavirus pandemic. For example, only 22 of its 25 international routes (including Los Angeles, Johannesburg and London) will return on or before October 31. Meanwhile, Jetstar will resurrect all 13 of its routes, which include flights to Bangkok, Seoul and Tokyo. Fewer planes will run on each route, and fewer passengers will be on each plane.
A representative for Qantas says that the airline is looking into several digital health passes, AKA “vaccine passports” that will verify whether a passenger has been vaccinated. Some countries are allowing vaccinated travelers to bypass quarantining upon arrival, which is a critical first step for slowly reopening the global tourism industry.
Not surprisingly, Qantas has taken a financial hit since the pandemic began last year.
Despite creative ideas like a seven-hour sightseeing trip dubbed “the flight to nowhere,” Qantas has struggled as Australia kept its borders almost entirely shut to non-residents.