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Qantas: International flying to NZ from July and rest-of-world in November 2021?

Qantas: International flying to NZ from July and rest-of-world in November 2021?

Today Qantas announced a plan to resume flying internationally by the 31 October, with flights to New Zealand to re-start from July 2021. That October date coincides with the completion of the national COVID-19 vaccine plan.

According to some experts, completing the rollout of the vaccine by October 2020, means that we would need to be more efficient than even Israel has been at distribution and immunisation!

Qantas AU$1.08 billion loss in 6 months

These optimistic statements counteract the airline’s announcement that it lost AU$1.08 billion in the 6 months to 31 December 2020. It puts these losses down to the border ban on international travel, and the opening and closing of domestic borders.

Qantas returns to International in November 2021

Johannesburg, Los Angeles, London, and Singapore are just some of the 22 international destinations Qantas plans to return to as of November 2021 (Sunday 31 October according to Qantas). Prior to the pandemic, Qantas serviced 25 world destinations.

The 3 destinations that have been dropped from the initial rollout are New York, Osaka and Santiago. However, these will be serviced by codeshare agreements with OneWorld partner airlines.

Don’t expect capacity to match pre-COVID levels however. Qantas is not expecting international travel demand to return to normal levels until 2024.

Jetstar returns to all routes

Jetstar is working on all 13 destinations for its return to international flying. Obviously frequencies will be adjusted according to the recovery in consumer demand.

Back to New Zealand

Despite the current bans on the bubble to New Zealand by several states (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania – at last count), Qantas and Jetstar are planning to increase frequencies, and respond to any trans-Tasman travel ‘bubbles’ created.

Qantas First Lounge, Sydney

Booking flexibility now covers International and extended to 2023

Now the Qantas ‘Fly Flexible’ policy applies to international flights booked from today, as well as trans-Tasman and domestic flights – until (currently) the end of April 2021. This means the change fee will be waived, although any fare difference will still need to paid.

Credit Vouchers extended

Credit vouchers are also extended allowing travel to be booked through until 31 December 2023 on domestic or international flights. Jetstar will provide the same extension, but only for vouchers issued because of COVID-19 disruptions.

Borders and Vaccine Passports

Qantas undercuts its October predictions by declaring that it remains in ‘close consultation’ with the federal government regarding the opening of international borders and will make adjustments as ‘required’.

The digital health pass and associated apps are also under consideration by Qantas to support international travel, especially the IATA Travel Pass, and the CommonPass. Both apps are being tested on Qantas repatriation flights.

2PAXfly Takeout

The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.

It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.

This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.

These are all sensible extensions and returns to normality. My only issue is that I think Qantas/Jetstar are being too optimistic.

I want to believe that borders will be opened and international travel will be resumed as soon as possible. But I just don’t think that’s going to happen by October/November 2021.

I think 2022 is more probable.

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