Qantas changes its international flights restart plan

The Australian flag carrier has pushed back the restart to better align with the country’s vaccine programme

Qantas and its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar are planning to restart international passenger flights to most destinations from October 31 – a four-month extension from the previous estimate of July. 

Aviation Image Network/Simon Gregory
Qantas currently holds a fleet of 11 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Aviation Image Network/Simon Gregory

The halt on international operations has been in place since mid-2020 and the new date aligns with the expected timeframe for the completion of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

Qantas is planning to resume connections to 22 of its 25 pre-crisis international destinations including Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Johannesburg from October 31. 

Qantas' 12-strong Airbus A380 fleet is currently in storage in the US. Aviation Image Network/BaoLuo

The flag carrier won’t initially resume direct flights to New York, Santiago and Osaka, but says it remains committed to flying to these three destinations. 

Jetstar is expected to resume all of its 13 international links, but frequencies will be adjusted in line with the projected recovery. 

Aviation Image Network/Bailey
While the majority of Jetstar's fleet comprises Airbus A320s, the low-cost carrier also fields a 11-strong roster of 787s. Aviation Image Network/Bailey

Capacity is expected to be lower than pre-COVID levels, with frequencies and aircraft type deployed on each route in line with the projected recovery of international flying. International capacity is not expected to fully recover until 2024. 

Qantas says it is assessing the use of digital health passport apps to help support the resumption of COVID-safe international travel. The CommonPass and IATA Travel Pass smartphone apps are being trialled on the airline’s international repatriation flights.