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Qantas to resume international flights earlier than planned; to launch flights to Delhi

Qantas has announced that it, along with Jetstar, will bring forward the resumption of international flights once again. The airline has also announced that it will launch flights to Delhi, India for the first time in almost a decade. Let’s find out more about this.

The national carrier of Australia will bring back 2 of its Airbus A380 aircraft earlier than planned and states that it 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 decision to bring forward the resumption of international flights follows the Federal and New South Wales (NSW) governments confirming that international borders would reopen from 1st November 2021 and the decision by the NSW Government to remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals, which Qantas says has significantly increased travel demand.

These decisions – combined with plans by states and territories to reopen domestic borders – support 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.

Qantas states that due to extended border closures, many international crew have been stood down since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with operational and corporate employees already working, the Group’s 22,000 employees will be able to return to work in December, which wasn’t expected to happen until June 2022.

Flights to Delhi, India

Starting 6th December 2021, Qantas will operate 3-weekly flights between Sydney Airport and Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. This will be the first time in almost a decade that Qantas will operate flights to the Indian capital. Flights from Sydney to Delhi would operate via Darwin, while flights from Delhi to Sydney would operate nonstop. As aforementioned, the flights will initially operate 3-times-a-week but will increase to daily by the end of 2021. The flights would initially operate until at least late March 2022. Qantas will continue to fly to Delhi beyond March 2022 “if there is sufficient demand”. These flights will be operated by Airbus A330 aircraft.

Updated international schedule

Qantas has once again updated its international flight schedule which includes flights between:

  • Sydney to Singapore: Qantas will once again operate flights between Sydney and Singapore from 23rd November 2021, 4 weeks earlier than originally scheduled. Flights will be operated 3-times-a-week by Airbus A330 aircraft. Services will ramp up to daily from 18th December 2021. Jetstar will fly from Melbourne and Darwin to Singapore from 16th December 2021.
  • Sydney to Nadi, Fiji: The airline’s flights to Nadi will be brought forward to 7th December 2021 from 19th December 2021. 4-flights-a-week will be operated by Boeing B737 aircraft. Jetstar flights to Fiji will resume on 17th December 2021. The airline says that within 48 hours of Fiji announcing its reopening (the country is reopening on 1st December 2021), Jetstar saw a 200% increase in sales versus pre-COVID levels, selling more fares than a typical 7 day period.
  • Sydney to Johannesburg: Qantas will resume flights to Johannesburg, South Africa on 5th January 2022, 3 months earlier than originally planned. Flights will be operated 3-times-a-week using Boeing B787 Dreamliners.
  • Sydney to Bangkok: Starting 14th January 2022, Qantas will operate 3-weekly flights between Sydney and Bangkok using Airbus A330 aircraft. This is 2 months earlier than originally scheduled.
  • Sydney to Phuket: Jetstar will resume flights to Phuket from 12th January 2022, more than 2 months than originally planned. Flights will be operated 3-times-a-week by Boeing B787 Dreamliners.

Qantas has also launched additional ‘Points Planes– where every seat in every cabin on a flight is available to book as a reward seat.

Qantas states that it’s discussions have commenced with the NSW Government about supporting some of Qantas’ international services to Sydney through its recently announced Aviation Attraction Fund. The airline has also started discussions with the Indonesian Government about welcoming fully vaccinated Australians back to Bali with reduced or no quarantine requirements, which would mean the resumption of Jetstar and Qantas flights from Sydney to the holiday island months earlier than scheduled.

The announcement follows Qantas’ earlier announcement to bring forward the resumption of flights to London and Los Angeles to 14th November 2021. The flag carrier of Australia states that the bookings on these routes have been extremely strong, with more than 10 additional return services added between Sydney and London due to demand from Australians coming home in time for Christmas.

Qantas frequent flyers have also been booking seats in record numbers, with the largest number of points used on reward seats for a single day in the airline’s history occurring on Tuesday (19th October 2021) this week, with more than half a billion points redeemed.

In addition to this, Qantas states that 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.

In line with current Federal Government requirements, these initial flights are limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families and parents.

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Fleet updates

Qantas has further accelerated the return of its fleet of A380 aircraft, a much loved aircraft by aviation geeks 🙂

Originally expected to remain in long term storage in the Californian desert until the end of 2023, the Group announced in August that 5 A380s with upgraded cabins would return from July 2022 to operate Los Angeles and London flights. This is now being brought forward a further 3 months, with 2 of the A380s to commence flights to Los Angeles from April 2022. The airline says that 1 aircraft could arrive by the end of this year to assist with crew training ahead of its return to service.

Additional 3 A380s will return to service from mid-November 2022 with the remaining 5 expected to return to service by early 2024.

Jetstar will bring the remaining 5 of its 11 Boeing B787-8s Dreamliners out of storage in Alice Springs over the coming months.

Domestic schedule update

Qantas and Jetstar are preparing to ramp up capacity between Melbourne and Sydney as quarantine-free travel is set to resume between Australia’s two largest cities. Pre-COVID, Melbourne-Sydney was the second busiest route in the world, with the group operating up to 58 return services per day, but during the latest lockdowns this got down to as low as 1 return flight per day for essential travel only.

When the Victorian and NSW borders open, Qantas and Jetstar will operate up to 18 return flights per day, increasing to up to 37 return flights per day by Christmas. The group says that additional capacity will be added on other routes to and from Sydney and Melbourne, as restrictions are lifted by other states and territories.

CEO’s comments

Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas Group, said:

Australians rolling up their sleeves means our planes and our people are getting back to work much earlier than we expected. This is the best news we’ve had in almost two years and it will make a massive difference to thousands of our people who finally get to fly again. We know that Australians are keen to get overseas and see friends and family or have a long awaited holiday, so bringing forward the restart of flights to these popular international destinations will give customers even more options to travel this summer. We’ve said for months that the key factor in ramping up international flying would be the quarantine requirement. 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.

He added:

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. 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. While these flights will initially be for Australians and their families, we expect tourists from Singapore, South Africa and India to take advantage of these flights once borders reopen to international visitors, which is great news for the industry. 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. Our customers and crew love flying on our flagship A380s, so news that they are will be back flying to Los Angeles again from April next year will be very welcome. The Federal Government’s support to ensure our aircraft and people are ready to resume once borders reopen has been critical.

Additional information for international travellers

All passengers on Qantas and Jetstar international flights (aged 12 years and older) will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine (unless they have an exemption). As part of the Australian Federal Government’s requirements, passengers on these flights will also be required to show a negative COVID-19 test from an approved PCR testing site conducted within 72 hours of departure.

Qantas states that the NSW Government will shortly advise details on additional testing requirements for arrivals.

Fiji will initially require travellers to stay within their resort for 48 hours upon arrival and return a negative test, before being able to venture out beyond their accommodation. Those who book Qantas flights before 28th February 2022 can make ‘fee free’ date changes when travelling before 31st December 2022. (A fare difference may apply).

Eligible Qantas passengers and frequent flyers will have access to lounges in Australia and overseas with “more details to be provided shortly” by the airline.

Meanwhile, Qantas recently announced 2 new routes from Darwin to far North Queensland.

Featured image by Qantas

What do you think of Qantas bringing forward the resumption of international flights and the airline launching flights to Delhi, India? Let me know in the comments section below.

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