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Qantas already accepting flight bookings to Singapore ahead of December return of overseas travel

Qantas is already taking bookings to Singapore with international flights set to resume from mid-December.

The flying kangaroo airline started accepting bookings to the Asian financial hub on Thursday morning, hours after it announced overseas flights would resume when 80 per cent of Australians were fully vaccinated.

The federal government is yet to formally repeal the ban on overseas holiday travel but air tickets for Singapore are now available.

Prices for a Qantas flight from Sydney just before Christmas, one way, start at $741 for economy.

 

Qantas is already taking booking to Singapore with international flights set to resume from mid-December. The flying kangaroo airline started accepting booking to the Asian financial hub on Thursday morning, hours after it announced overseas flights would resume when 80 per cent of Australians were fully vaccinated

Airfares for destinations like Singapore went on sale on Thursday morning even though the federal government is yet to formally announce the end of the travel ban for overseas holidays. Prices for a Qantas flight from Sydney just before Christmas, one way, start at $741 for premium economy

Airfares for destinations like Singapore went on sale on Thursday morning even though the federal government is yet to formally announce the end of the travel ban for overseas holidays. Prices for a Qantas flight from Sydney just before Christmas, one way, start at $741 for premium economy

A day before the Qantas announcement, Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan hinted Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand would be expanded to include the likes of Singapore.

‘When we see 80 per cent are fully vaccinated, outbound international restrictions will be lifted and travel bubbles will be expanded,’ he told Parliament.

‘So not only will we have the travel bubble with New Zealand but the Pacific Islands, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the US, the UK are all possibilities that we’ll be able to extend our travel bubbles to.’ 

Travellers from Australia are already on Singapore’s favoured list, despite lockdowns in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, with no pre-Covid test required before boarding a flight.

Only China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, Germany,  New Zealand and Macau are also in Singapore’s special category.

Qantas is expecting Australia to reach the 80 per cent vaccination target in December – triggering the re-opening of international borders as part of ‘Phase C’ of the federal government’s path to pandemic normality. 

A day before the Qantas announcement, Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan hinted Australia's travel bubble with New Zealand would be expanded to include the likes of Singapore

A day before the Qantas announcement, Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan hinted Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand would be expanded to include the likes of Singapore

Qantas plan for international travel

MID-DECEMBER: Singapore, the United States, Japan, United Kingdom and Canada using Boeing 787s

New Zealand if travel bubble reopened with Australia 

Airbus A330s, and 737s and A320s for services to Fiji

FEBRUARY 2022: Hong Kong 

APRIL 2022: Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg

APRIL 2022: Budget subsidiary Jetstar to resume international flights 

JULY 2022: Sydney to Los Angeles on A380s

NOVEMBER 2022: Sydney to London via Singapore with Darwin instead of Perth as a possible transit point 

The first available travel routes will be to first-world destinations with high vaccination rates including the United States, Canada, the UK, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand, Qantas told the Australian Securities Exchange.

Those routes will be serviced by Boeing 787s, Airbus A330s, 737s and A320s for flights to Fiji. 

The resumption of international flights is also based on National Cabinet scrapping caps on returning Australian travellers who are fully vaccinated. 

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said Australia’s rapid vaccination rollout would make international holiday travel possible again for the first time in almost two years, despite lockdowns in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

‘The prospect of flying overseas might feel a long way off, especially with New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown, but the current pace of the vaccine rollout means we should have a lot more freedom in a few months’ time,’ he said.

‘It’s obviously up to government exactly how and when our international borders re-open, but with Australia on track to meet the 80 per cent trigger agreed by National Cabinet by the end of the year, we need to plan ahead for what is a complex restart process.’

The airline said flights to cities in Asia and South Africa with low vaccination rates and high Covid-19 case numbers would not restart until at least April 2022. 

Those developing world destinations include Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg. 

Qantas said it also plans to restart flights between Australia and New Zealand from mid-December 2021 as long as the trans-Tasman bubble had re-opened by that date.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern closed the bubble on July 23 following outbreaks of the virus in NSW and Victoria.

Qantas is expecting Australia to reach the 80 per cent vaccination target in December - triggering the re-opening of international borders as part of 'Phase C' of the federal government's path to pandemic normality

Qantas is expecting Australia to reach the 80 per cent vaccination target in December – triggering the re-opening of international borders as part of ‘Phase C’ of the federal government’s path to pandemic normality

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said Australia's rapid vaccination rollout would make international holiday travel possible again for the first time in almost two years, despite lockdowns in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra

 Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said Australia’s rapid vaccination rollout would make international holiday travel possible again for the first time in almost two years, despite lockdowns in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra

IG market analyst Kyle Rodda said the international travelling public was likely to pay higher Qantas airfares as its weakened key rival Virgin Australia gave up trying to wrest away market share, as it did before the pandemic

IG market analyst Kyle Rodda said the international travelling public was likely to pay higher Qantas airfares as its weakened key rival Virgin Australia gave up trying to wrest away market share, as it did before the pandemic

For London flights, Qantas is also exploring turning Darwin into a transit point  instead of Perth with Western Australia’s Labor Premier Mark McGowan hinting he would maintain hard border closures even with an 80 per cent vaccination rate. 

‘Qantas’ ability to fly non-stop between Australia and London is expected to be in even higher demand post-Covid, it said.

‘The airline is investigating using Darwin as a transit point, which has been Qantas’ main entry for repatriation flights, as an alternative (or in addition) to its existing Perth hub given conservative border policies in Western Australia. 

‘Discussions on this option are continuing.’

IG market analyst Kyle Rodda said the international travelling public was likely to pay higher Qantas airfares as its weakened key rival Virgin Australia gave up trying to wrest away market share, as it did before the pandemic.

‘If you are looking forward to that trip overseas you’re going to be paying a little bit of a premium for it,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

Qantas said it expected the country to reach that target in December - triggering the re-opening of international borders as part of 'Phase C' of the federal government's path to pandemic normality

Qantas said it expected the country to reach that target in December – triggering the re-opening of international borders as part of ‘Phase C’ of the federal government’s path to pandemic normality

‘The survivors of this crisis, they do have greater pricing power because there’s less competition in the market and there’s pent-up demand at a time where supply is really quite disrupted.’

The Qantas announcement follows the airline revealing plans to make Covid vaccinations mandatory for all its employees.

The 2,000 frontline staff including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers will have until November 15 to get jabbed, while the 20,0000 remaining workers have until March 31 next year. 

The airline said the decision for mandatory vaccinations was made ‘as part of the national carrier’s commitment to safety’. 

Cabin crew, pilots and baggage handlers will need to be fully vaccinated by November 15, with other staff having until March 2022 get two jabs of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer.

The first available travel routes will be to destinations with high vaccination rates including the United States, Canada, the UK (pictured is London), Singapore, Japan and New Zealand, Qantas told the Australian Securities Exchange

The first available travel routes will be to destinations with high vaccination rates including the United States, Canada, the UK (pictured is London), Singapore, Japan and New Zealand, Qantas told the Australian Securities Exchange

‘There will be exemptions for those who are unable for documented medical reasons to be vaccinated, which is expected to be very rare.’ 

Australians have been banned from travelling overseas for a holiday since March 2020, when the pandemic began, and have had to obtain permission to leave the country from Australian Border Force for compassionate or business reasons.

Qantas made a full-year after tax loss of $1.728billion in the year to June 30. 

With international holidays banned and state borders closed, the airline relied on its freight business to survive with overseas cargo transport a surprisingly lucrative income earner in fiscal year 2021.

‘Demand for air cargo capacity remained extremely strong through FY21 due to a surge in online shopping in the Australian market and the belly space lost due to the cancellation of most international passenger flights,’ Qantas said.

Australians have been banned from travelling overseas for a holiday since March 2020, when the pandemic began, and have had to obtain permission from Australian Border Force for compassionate or business reasons. Qantas made a full-year after tax loss of $1.728billion in the year to June 30

 Australians have been banned from travelling overseas for a holiday since March 2020, when the pandemic began, and have had to obtain permission from Australian Border Force for compassionate or business reasons. Qantas made a full-year after tax loss of $1.728billion in the year to June 30

‘Qantas Freight was able to capitalise on this demand, delivering a record profit that significantly offset the costs of the Group’s grounded international operations.’

The airline told shareholders it expected a reopening of Australia’s border to see international flight capacity increase in 2022.

Mr Rodda said more Covid outbreaks could disturb Qantas’ international flights and described the announcement as one based on optimistic assumptions. 

‘The company is setting itself a very ambitious target, it’s also politically motivated in the sense that it knows that it wants to express its view on the need to be able to get the industry back to normalcy,’ he said.

‘The virus will be fairly persistent and we’ll continue to see disruptions to Covid-sensitive industries like airlines.’

What are the four phases of opening up?

A. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)

Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet   

B. Post vaccination phase (when 70 per cent are jabbed, expected late this year)

Lockdowns ‘less likely but possible’; vaccinated people face reduced restrictions; caps for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger cap for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; capped entry for students and economic visa holders  

C. Consolidation phase (when 80 per cent are jabbed, time not announced)

Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out 

D. Final phase (percentage or time not announced)

Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival 

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