Australia’s borders remain firmly closed, and just last month, the ban on outbound international travel was extended until at least March 17, 2021. And yet, Qantas has begun taking bookings for flights departing around the world for later this year.
The international carrier has reopened bookings across its international network, and is now allowing hopeful travellers to book fares to the US, UK and parts of Asia from July 1, 2021, Executive Traveller reports.
Perhaps it’s optimistic of the airline to assume such large-scale travel could be possible within six months — especially since previous announcements would have us believe global travel was off the cards until late 2021, or even 2024 at the latest — but with a COVID-19 vaccine tentatively pencilled in for distribution from March 2021, a European summer this year may not be entirely out of the question.
While prior announcements from Qantas teased a return of international travel to destinations like Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong by March, 2021, these bookings have now been wiped and replaced with fares that would also resume by July 1, 2021.
Qantas has “aligned the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021”, a Qantas spokesperson told Executive Traveller.
“We continue to review and update our international schedule in response to the developing COVID-19 situation.”
While a large number of routes are now available to book, a handful of previously frequented routes are notably missing from the roster. Seemingly, there are no flights between Los Angeles and New York. Likewise, there are no fares available from Brisbane to Chicago.
When such travel resumes, it is likely that travellers will be required to present e-vaccination certificates, which would indicate if a traveller has received a COVID-19 vaccine.
“To re-open borders without quarantine and restart aviation, governments need to be confident that they are effectively mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19,” a press release from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reads. “This means having accurate information on passengers’ COVID-19 health status.”
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has reiterated the need for proof of vaccination prior to travelling, saying recently at the airline’s 2020 general meeting: “For some of our big destination like the United States and the UK, it’s going to need a vaccine given the high prevalence of the virus in both of those locations.
“But we are getting more and more confident about the opportunities and the potential for a vaccine in helping getting those operations up by potentially by the end of 2021.”