Australia’s national carrier Qantas says that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact its international operations, with travel likely to only resume at normal levels in 2022.
Presenting the airline’s full-year results, group chief executive Alan Joyce said Australia’s international borders were essentially closed for the whole year. There were only about 30 days when the airline didn’t face some level of domestic travel restrictions.
“Talking to airline CEOs overseas, it’s clear the rest of the world is opening up – especially across the UK, Europe and the United States.
“Australia now also has a plan for re-opening. And based on that plan, we’ve reshaped our own assumptions about restarting international flights,” he said.
However, Joyce cautioned that the nature of Covid means the airline has had to change its plans a couple of times already.
Pending final decisions by the Australian government in the coming months, Joyce said travellers should expect the following:
- Flights to countries with high vaccine rates to resume from mid-December 2021 onwards – including Singapore, Japan, the US, the UK, and hopefully New Zealand.
- Flights to places with lower vaccination rates will restart from April 2022 at the earliest – like Bali, Jakarta, Manila and Johannesburg.
“I know the prospect of flying overseas might feel a long way off – especially with New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown. Some people might say we’re still being too optimistic.
“But the current pace of the vaccine rollout means all Australian states are on track to reach the 80% target by December – which is the trigger for starting to carefully open to some parts of the world.”
One of the biggest unknowns is the quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers entering Australia, Joyce said.
“If it’s 14 days in a hotel, demand levels will be very low. A shorter period with additional testing and the option to isolate at home will see a lot more people travel.
“Like many elements of this plan, it relies on decisions by the Australian government.”
Joyce said that Qantas is in regular discussion with the government and has shared its plans with them.
“While they don’t have a crystal ball either, they agree our broad assumptions are reasonable.”