Qantas and Jetstar have brought forward the restart of more overseas routes, including the revival of flights between Australia and India after almost a decade.
The national carrier plans to launch a new route from Sydney to Delhi on 6 December 2021 with three return flights per week with its A330 aircraft, building to daily flights by end of the year, subject to necessary approvals.
If approved, the flights will operate until at least late March 2022, with the potential to continue if there is enough demand.
Flights from Sydney to Delhi would operate via Darwin, while flights from Delhi to Sydney would operate nonstop.
“Given the strong ties between Australia and India, flights between Sydney and Delhi have been on our radar for some time, and we think there will be strong demand from family and friends wanting to reconnect once borders open,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.
On top of its new Delhi route, Qantas plans to resume its Sydney to Singapore flights from 23 November – four weeks earlier than planned with three flights per week, ramping up to daily by 18 December.
Flights connecting Sydney to Fiji, Johannesburg, and Bangkok have also been moved forward, with Qantas resuming flights on 7 December, 5 January and 14 January, respectively.
Jetstar flights between Sydney and Fiji will resume on 17 December 2021 after the airline saw a 200 per cent increase in sales versus pre-COVID levels within 48 hours of Fiji announcing its reopening.
Rival airline Virgin Australia announced last week it would bring forward its flights between Sydney and Fiji from 23 December to 16 December to better align with the start of the summer holiday period.
Qantas’ low-cost carrier also plans to move forward flights between Sydney and Phuket on 12 January 2022, more than two months earlier than scheduled. Three return flights a week will be operated by 787 aircraft.
“In recent weeks, sales on international flights to and from Sydney have outstripped sales on domestic flights, which shows how important certainty is to people when making travel plans,” Joyce continued.
The faster ramp-up follows the Federal and NSW governments confirming that international borders would reopen from 1 November 2021 and the state’s decision to remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals.
Victoria has also announced it will scrap quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.
“We’ve said for months that the key factor in ramping up international flying would be the quarantine requirement,” Joyce said.
“The decision by the NSW government to join many cities from around the world by removing quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers means we’re able to add these flights from Sydney much earlier than we would have otherwise.
“We hope that as vaccination rates in other states and territories increase, we’ll be able to restart more international flights out of their capital cities. In the meantime, Sydney is our gateway to the rest of the world.”
According to the airline, these decisions – combined with plans by states and territories to reopen domestic borders – will help all Qantas and Jetstar workers based in Australia and New Zealand who are currently stood down to return to work by early December 2021.
This includes around 5,000 employees linked to domestic flying and around 6,000 linked to international flying, bringing the expected return date for the group’s 22,000 employees (including operational and corporate employees already working) forward from June 2022 to December 2021.
The national carrier will also bring back two of its Airbus A380 aircraft earlier than planned and is in discussions with Boeing about accelerating the delivery of three brand new 787 Dreamliners, which have been in storage for most of the pandemic.
The new dates are in addition to routes already on sale from Sydney to London and Los Angeles, which the airline said have both shown strong bookings so far, with more than 10 additional return services added between Sydney and London due to demand from Australians coming home in time for Christmas.
The airline is in talks with the NSW government about supporting some of Qantas’ international services to Sydney through its recently announced Aviation Attraction Fund, and is pushing the Indonesian government to allow fully vaccinated Australians back to Bali with reduced or no quarantine requirements with the Indonesian government.
Flights to Honolulu, Vancouver, Tokyo and New Zealand are still scheduled to commence from mid-December 2021, with other destinations to restart in the new year.
Qantas and Jetstar are also preparing to ramp up capacity between Melbourne and Sydney as quarantine-free travel is set to resume with up to 58 return services per day, but during the latest lockdowns, this got down to as low as one return flight per day for essential travel only.
Featured image source: iStock/SoumenNath