With Australia announcing it will begin re-opening its international border from mid-November, Qantas has said it will bring forward the resumption of flights to London and Los Angeles, initially offering several flights a week to both destinations.
Giddy up – Qantas international back in the air mid-November
After grounding nearly all its international services in March 2020, Qantas had anticipated restarting international flights in mid-December. But a surprize announcement from the Australian Government last week saw the airline bring the start date of some flights forward.
From Sunday, November 14, Qantas will start flying between Sydney and Los Angeles thrice weekly and Sydney and London five times a week. Flights to London were set to run three times weekly, but demand has seen Qantas already add extra flights to its schedules.
The first London-bound flights will leave Sydney at 18:30 on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. QF1 is scheduled to travel via Darwin and will land in London at 06:50 the following day after a 23 hour and 20-minute flight. By mid-December, QF1 is timetabled to fly daily.
In the opposite direction, QF2 will depart London at 09:50 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, starting Monday, November 15. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will take 22 hours and 15 minutes to complete the flight, arriving in Sydney at 19:05 the following day. QF2 will also build to daily services by mid-December.
“We know Australians can’t wait to travel overseas and be reunited with their loved ones, and literally thousands are waiting to come back home, so this faster restart is fantastic news. It also means we can get more of our people back to work, sooner,” says Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
“We’d already sold out some of our international flights for December and seen strong demand on flights to and from London and Los Angeles, so we’re confident there will be a lot of interest in these earlier services.”
Three times a week to LAX, daily by mid-December
Heading to Los Angeles, QF11 will initially fly on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Resuming Sunday, November 14. the Qantas Dreamliner will push back from Sydney at 22:25 and land in Los Angeles at 17:00 on the same day after 13 and a half hours in the air.
After a few hours on the ground, QF12 will depart Los Angeles at 20:30 on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, landing back in Sydney at 06:20 two days later. By mid-December, QF11 and QF12 will both operate daily.
For the time being, Australia’s borders will remain closed to outsiders. The initial re-opening of the border applies to Australians only. Critically, it will get tens of thousands of Australians still stranded overseas home reasonably quickly.
But Australia is expected to start opening its borders to citizens of other countries relatively soon, beginning with selected countries with high vaccination rates. In any case, if the Australian Government expects its citizens to be allowed to enter the USA and UK, it is fair to assume both those countries will soon want reciprocity.
Some early flights already sold out
Those mid-November flights from London have already reportedly sold out (there are still seats available going to London) as stranded Aussies hit the buy button on the Qantas website. Currently, Qantas has the London flights dropping back to three a week towards the end of November before ramping up to daily in mid-December.
Fuelling that first rush is Australia dropping its 14-day self-funded hotel quarantine requirement for vaccinated Australians in favor of seven days home quarantine – a much more comfortable and affordable alternative.
“Beyond the initial rush, the ongoing demand for international flights will hinge largely on what the quarantine requirements are,” adds Mr Joyce. “The shift to seven day home quarantine for fully vaccinated Australians with a negative test is a great step towards reducing this closer to what is becoming standard in many countries overseas, which is a test and release program.”
The airline notes all adult passengers on Qantas international flights needed to be fully vaccinated to fly. Qantas also requires all passengers to return a negative PCR test 72 hours before departure.