Australian government lashes Qantas international plans

by Geoffrey Thomas & Steve Creedy
January 05, 2021
A Qantas 787. Photo: Qantas

In a stinging rebuke, the Australian government has lashed Qantas’s plans for a reboot of its international flights from July 1.

“The health and safety of Australians remain the Morrison-McCormack Government’s top priority,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said.

“International borders will be opened when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians.”

Qantas has announced that it has brought forward bookings for international travel to the UK and the USA to July even as it pushed back a proposed March start date for international services it had already been selling.

Bookings to London and the US had previously been suspended until October but vaccination programs in both countries have boosted the carrier’s confidence that services will resume earlier.

READ: Qantas again the world’s safest airline for 2021.

“We continue to review and update our international schedule in response to the developing COVID-19 situation,’’ a Qantas spokeswoman said.

“Recently we have aligned the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021.”

But Mr McCormack is having none of that saying that “decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian Government.”

He added that the Australian Government is working on travel arrangements with countries, such as New Zealand, that have low community infections.

Qantas has said for some time now that it did not expect international travel from Australia to start in any significant way until mid-year.

It had been hopeful that “travel bubbles” would allow it to fly to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan from March but it now believes that is unlikely to happen.

It is currently flying to New Zealand and has operated a number of repatriation flights.

With its Boeing 747 fleet retired and its Airbus A380 superjumbos out of service, Qantas long-haul International routes will be operated by the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners while its Airbus A330s can service medium-haul destinations.