Qantas, betting on a successful global vaccine roll-out, has filed its flight plan to soar out of the pandemic with New Zealand flights to scale up in July and 22 other international destinations added by late October.
However, the airline’s flagship, the 500-seat A380 superjumbo, will remain cocooned in the Californian desert for another two years at least and the smaller more flexible Boeing 787, and Airbus A330s flying the flag.
Jetstar, the groups’ low-cost airline, will resume flights to all its 13 international destinations at the same time.
At the airline’s half-year result’s announcement of a A$1.04 billion loss, chief executive Alan Joyce said that the late October launch date coincided with the expected timeframe for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out to be effectively complete.
He warned however that full recovery of international travel is not expected till 2024.
Mr. Joyce said that Qantas remains in close consultation with the Federal Government around the reopening of international borders and will keep passengers updated if further adjustments are required.
“The vaccine changes everything,” Mr. Joyce said.
“With the vaccine roll-out already underway, we’re on the right track.”
“We think that October date is sensible and hopefully conservative.”
But Qantas needs the federal government to green light opening the international borders.
The airline is also assessing the use of digital health pass apps to help support the resumption of COVID-safe international travel with a vaccine expected to be mandatory across the globe for international travel.
Qantas is trialing two health Apps – the Swiss CommonPass and the IATA Travel Pass – on its international repatriation flights.
Qantas says it will not resume to New York, Santiago, and Osaka, but says it remains committed to flying to these three destinations.
To assist travelers book with confidence the Qantas group announced additional flexibility for international bookings and flight credits.
Qantas’ updated Fly Flexible policy, which was previously only available for domestic and Trans Tasman flights, now applies to international flights booked from today until at least the end of April 2021.
The airline has also extended credit vouchers to enable travel until December 31, 2023, on domestic or international flights, with Jetstar doing the same for vouchers issued due to COVID-19 disruptions.