By Benjamin Pham
How Qantas is Preparing For the Resumption of International Flights
There is no doubt that the ongoing Covid-19 complication caused disruptions and turmoil for the airlines. In addition, the virus forced several major airlines and national governments to come together on a consensus, for determining when it was safe to reopen borders and support flight resumptions to facilitate economic recovery. Key markets for leisure travel and tourism such as Europe and North America reopened, following a high level of vaccinations enough to perforate strategic destinations. The current, immense encouragement for vaccinations shows promises for border reopenings and international travel, especially for Australia which currently remains closed. As a result, the Australian flag carrier recently defined its plans to prepare for restarting international flights under the right circumstances.
The notable Oneworld alliance carrier’s strategy will closely follow the timeline for the nationwide vaccine rollout. For the airline’s international flight schedule, Qantas plans to hone in on primarily resuming international, long-haul flights to destinations – where vaccination rates are high – such as North America, the United Kingdom, Japan and Singapore, using its widebody fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A330s.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said, “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. We can adjust our plans if the circumstances change, which we’ve already had to do several times during this pandemic. Some people might say we’re being too optimistic, but based on the pace of the vaccine rollout, this is within reach and we want to make sure we’re ready.”
Other international destinations the airline is also vying to restart flights include Hong Kong that is expected to restart in February 2022, and New Zealand starting later this year in mid-December, dependent upon the status of the two-way travel bubble, Additionally, five of the carrier’s jumbo Airbus A380s are expected to return to service earlier for flights such as Sydney to Los Angeles, one of its adjustments for transpacific travel and Sydney to London via Singapore in 2022.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen, including training for our people and carefully bringing aircraft back into service. We’re also working to integrate the IATA travel pass into our systems to help our customers prove their vaccine status and cross borders,” Joyce added.
While Qantas is preparing itself for long-awaited international flight resumptions after its border reopens under the correct conditions, the carrier also announced the vaccination requirement for its employees earlier this month. Cabin crew, pilots and airport workers are expected to and should be fully vaccinated by November 15, while the remaining employees need to be by March 31 next year.
“Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to. We provide an essential service, so this will help guard against the disruptions that can be caused by just one positive COVID-case shutting down a freight facility or airport terminal.” Joyce said. “We understand there will be a very small number of people who decide not to get the vaccine, and that’s their right, but it’s our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our employees and for our customers.”
The light at the end of the tunnel is becoming closer for Australia, hugely in part due to the crucial encouragement for becoming vaccinations. For Qantas, it is a long-awaited necessity as the airline will have the opportunity to rebuild its long-haul route network and attract tourists or visitors. Undoubtedly, passengers want to travel, but the challenge for Qantas is accomplishing its flights in a safe manner.