Australia reopening: what does it mean for aviation?

With Australia cautiously and gradually lifting restrictions on its borders in November, international travel is on track to resume safely for fully vaccinated Australian travellers. After months of lockdowns and very strict rules for quarantine, testing and crossing borders, Australian states are preparing to ease restrictions and finally allow, step by step, the reopening of the country. According to the existing rules, Australian states are allowed to restart international travel when they reach the 80% of vaccinated population.

It’s time to give Australians their lives back. – Scott Morrison, PM of Australia

Australia, however, remains closed to international travellers for the time being.

What does this mean for aviation? Ever since the first announcements at the beginning of October, airlines have restarted scheduling flights to and from Australia, set to resume over the next months.


Qantas Gearing Up

The Australian national airline Qantas has followed, very closely, the decisions made by the Australian government and have, during the whole month of October, made several announcements outlining the comeback of international operations.

Here is a summary of the announcements made during the past weeks:

  1. The flagship non-stop flight between Australia and London is set to restart in November, leaving from Darwin instead of Perth (read our story here).  The London-Darwin service will continue to Sydney 5 times a week (starting from 14th November 2021) and to Melbourne twice a week (starting from 6th November 2021). The route between Los Angeles to Sydney will restart also in November with three weekly flights, moving to daily flights from December. Qantas has stated that bookings for these two routes are going extremely well.
  2. Between November 2021 and January 2022, many new destinations will be offered to Australian travellers: Honolulu, Vancouver, Tokyo, Nadi, Johannesburg, Bangkok and Phuket. Singapore and New Zealand established “travel bubbles” with Australia, allowing facilitated international travel. All the other destinations of the network are set to restart during 2022, or earlier if the situation and the government decisions allow.
  3. From the 6th of December 2021, Qantas will open three weekly flights between Sydney and Delhi (with a stop in Darwin on the outbound sectors), increasing to daily flights by the end of the year.
  4. Qantas is expecting that all the employees of the Group (around 22,000) will be able to go back to work by the end of 2021.
  5. Some of the airline’s Airbus A380s are set to restart operations in April 2022, with the whole A380 fleet expected to be back in service by 2024. Initially, the airline planned to bring the A380 back by the end of 2023.
    In addition, three brand new Boeing 787-9, currently in storage with the manufacturer, will be delivered.

    Also Jetstar will bring all of its Boeing 787-8 out of storage.

Qantas Boieng 787-9 © Shaifuzzaman Ayon/Wikimedia Commons
Qantas Boieng 787-9 © Shaifuzzaman Ayon/Wikimedia Commons

Other Airlines Planning Services to Australia

Qantas is not the only airline excited to restart routes to and from Australia. Many airlines around the world, following the government’s announcements, are planning their comeback to the continent.
Here are the latest airline announcements for Australian routes:

  • Two Gulf carriers are returning to Australia over the next weeks: Etihad, starting from the 1st of November 2021, will finally resume their flights to Sydney, followed by Emirates on the 1st of December. During 2022, Emirates is planning to resume its whole Australian network, including Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, with the first two getting Airbus A380 flights. The fifth-freedom flight between Sydney and Christchurch (New Zealand) is set to resume. Moreover, Emirates and Qantas have extended their partnership and codeshare until 2028, initially planned to end in 2023.
  • From the 1st of November, Cathay Pacific will restart flights from Hong Kong to Sydney and Melbourne with its Airbus A350.
  • On the 5th of November, Air New Zealand will restart its Los Angeles-Sydney service (with stop in Auckland), initially once a week, increasing to five weekly by December.
  • On the 13th of December, Hawaiian Airlines will resume flights between Honolulu and Sydney, five times a week.
Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian is one of the airlines coming back to Australia soon @ Hawaiian Airlines

A “Travel Bubble” with Singapore

After the start of a quarantine-free corridor between Australia and New Zealand, a second “travel bubble” is set to start soon.
On the 26th of October, Singapore announced the opening of a Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with Australia, starting on the 8th of November. This will allow fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and their family members to fly to Singapore and back without having to quarantine.

For this reason, during the month of November, Singapore Airlines (SQ) has planned to reinstate its 17 weekly flights between Singapore and Sydney, operated with a combination of Boeing 777-300, Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A380, with the latter making a comeback in Singapore Airlines during the same month. A twice-daily service to Melbourne is also set to resume in November, operated by Airbus A350-900s.

Qantas will also restart flights between Sydney and Singapore, set to begin on the 23rd of November with three weekly flights operated by Airbus A330-300s, increasing to daily flights by December. During the month of December, Jetstar will also resume flights from Melbourne and Darwin to Singapore.

Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines is coming back strong in Australia © Andrea Ongaro/Travel Radar

Now that the country is slowly reopening, when do you think international travellers will be again allowed to enter Australia? Let us know in the comments.




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Mikael Faa
Mikael Faa
Jr. Aviation Reporter/Intern - Mikael is a young man from Italy, currently based in Helsinki, Finland. He is an aviation enthusiast (or better, obsessed), Aviation Management student, and soon also Cabin Crew. His main interest is routes, networks and operations.


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