Australian airline Qantas has announced plans to resume some international flying in December. But those plans depend on Australia making some changes to its entry regime. Chief among those is ending the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for vaccinated travelers.
Qantas says quarantine is a demand killer
Qantas’ Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully called the expensive quarantine process a demand killer. On Friday, Ms Tully said the planned international flying would not resume unless the Australian Government dropped the quarantine requirement for vaccinated travelers.
“It’s the last piece of the puzzle we need clarity on,” Ms Tully told a Tourism Australia webinar on Friday morning. “If we are still putting people in quarantine, we will not get the demand we need to operate.
“If they (travelers) are vaccinated, our view is quarantine should be eliminated or greatly reduced.”
The Qantas CCO says the planned resumption of international flying aligns with the Australian Federal Government’s current plans to begin allowing vaccinated Australians to fly in and out of the country by the end of the year.
Australians waiting for more clarity before booking airline tickets
The Qantas Chief Customer Officer said decisions about when to restart flying and where to wasn’t done in isolation. Stephanie Tully said Qantas spent a lot of time talking to the Australian Government and ensuring everyone was on the same path.
Tourism Australia research suggests plenty of Australians want to travel both locally and abroad. Increasing rates of vaccination are boosting confidence levels when it comes to traveling.
“We’ve seen a lot of people getting ready to book once they get the next green light,” said Ms Tully.
Online searches of the Qantas website reveals London as the most favored destination. Vancouver has proved popular, along with Singapore and Los Angeles. But while people are browsing, most aren’t yet buying tickets. Still, Qantas is quietly optimistic.
“We’re excited to see that Australians want to travel and we can see from our insights that the amount of Australians that want to travel domestically and internationally is at an all-time high.”
While agreeing un-vaccinated travelers would still have to do quarantine, that shouldn’t be a problem for Qantas. The airline has consistently said they would not fly unvaccinated travelers once international flights resume. This week, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce reiterated that. Speaking to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, he said;
“Qantas will have a policy that internationally, we’ll only be carrying vaccinated passengers because we think that’s going to be one of the requirements to show that you’re flying safe in getting into those countries.”
Qantas wants quarantine dropped in favor of a COVID testing regime
Come December, Qantas would like to see a regime where vaccinated travelers have a COVID test before they board a flight and another test when the traveler lands. They stay at home until the result comes in, and if all is clear, that person is free to move around.
“We think that’s realistic, and the right risk-based approach we need come December,” adds Stephanie Tully.
Having been burned announcing the restart of international flying before, Qantas is taking a more cautious and coordinated approach now. Liaising with the Australian Government, the airline seems increasingly confident about international services resuming in December.
But as the Qantas Chief Customer Officer confirmed on Friday, there’s a caveat. Those flights won’t happen unless the 14-day quarantine rule is abolished for vaccinated flyers.