Qantas will resume regular flights to some international locations next month, the airline announced in a media release this evening.
The news comes a week after the federal government revealed that inbound and outbound travel restrictions would be lifted for vaccinated Australians in November.
Qantas plans to restart flights between Sydney and Los Angeles next month. With some exceptions, all passengers on the airline’s international flights must be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine approved or recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Passengers will also be required to test negative for COVID-19 prior to departure.
From 14 November, air travel between Sydney and London will resume. In what Qantas describes as a “temporary” change, passengers on this route will travel via Darwin — not via Perth — for at least four months.
This year, Darwin Airport became the first in Australia to have received non-stop flights from all inhabited continents of the world, when the longest-ever Qantas commercial passenger flight carried stranded Australians directly from Buenos Aires to Darwin.
Air travel between Melbourne and London (also via Darwin) is scheduled to begin on 18 December, but Qantas says it could start earlier, “depending on discussions with the Victorian Government on shorter quarantine arrangements for returning travellers.”
Theoretically, fully vaccinated Australians and their children are already allowed to enter England without quarantining on arrival. Unvaccinated Australians are also allowed in, and although they can avoid government-managed hotel quarantine, they must quarantine somewhere for ten days. Australians who receive their second dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna at least 14 days before arriving in England can skip quarantine entirely, with a valid vaccine certificate.
Currently, the only barrier to Australians travelling to London is the Australian government’s outward travel ban, which has been in place since March 2020. The ban will soon be lifted for vaccinated Australians, allowing freer international travel. Governments and airlines alike appear reluctant to facilitate international travel for unvaccinated Australians.
The impending resumption of mass international travel may lead to an absurd scenario in which residents of Melbourne and Sydney find it easier to travel to the United Kingdom than it is to travel to Queensland, Tasmania or Western Australia, due to state border closures.