Qantas Airways is preparing for a full return to work ahead of Australia’s accelerated border reopening in the coming months.
In a statement on Friday (22 October), the flag carrier said that all Australian-based Qantas employees are set to return to work in early December, with flights to South Africa expected to restart months ahead of schedule.
While the airline had previously said that flights between Australia and South Africa would resume in April 2022 at the earliest, Qantas said that it will now resume flights to Johannesburg from 5 January 2022 – three months earlier than scheduled.
This will include three return flights a week that will be operated by 787 aircraft, it said. Qantas also plans to resume other international flights over the same period, including routes to Delhi, Singapore and Bangkok.
“The faster ramp-up follows the Federal and New South Wales governments confirming that international borders would reopen from 1 November 2021 and the decision by the NSW Government to remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals – which significantly increases travel demand,” the airline said.
“Due to extended border closures, many international crews have been stood down since the start of the pandemic. Combined with operational and corporate employees already working, the Group’s 22,000 employees are able to return to work in December, which wasn’t expected to happen until June 2022.”
Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said this is the best news the group has had in almost two years, and it will make a massive difference to thousands of our people who finally get to fly again.
“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.
“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.”
While further requirements for South Africans are expected to be made available at a later date, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison has indicated that the following measures are being trialled:
Australian citizens and permanent residents who cannot be vaccinated – for example, if they are under 12 or have a medical condition – will be treated as vaccinated for their travel purposes.
“The government’s intention is that once changes are made in November, the current overseas travel restrictions related to Covid-19 will be removed, and Australians will be able to travel subject to any other travel advice and limits, as long as they are fully vaccinated and those countries’ border settings allow.
“Border settings and quarantine requirements in other countries continue to change, and we strongly encourage all Australians to closely monitor DFAT travel advice, available on smartraveller.gov.au.”