By Charlotte Seet
Qantas Resumes International Flights Amid Border Reopening
Australia — having been dubbed a nickname as the “hermit kingdom” because of its strict border restrictions — is finally able to reconnect with the world after reopening its borders.
The eventful reopening has allowed for the Australian flag carrier to reactivate its scheduled international flights from Melbourne, allowing for the iconic kangaroo to breeze through international skies once again.
QF35 who was bound for Singapore — a popular destination in the airline’s vast network — was the first international flight that Qantas is operating after a rough 20 months of inactivity. One of the carrier’s Airbus A330-300s — registered as VH-QPJ — which is nicknamed “Port Stephens” operated this important and exciting flight.
The carrier scheduled the flight to operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from Melbourne, Australia. In addition, QF35 is one of just two flights that are currently designated under Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane services. The other route would be Sydney-Singapore, which is planned to operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays as QF81.
Unfortunately, this schedule does differ quite drastically from Qantas’ double-daily services before in the pre-pandemic era, which also witnessed the luxury of having the Airbus A380 — Qantas’ flagship aircraft — in service that made a stopover in Singapore before connecting to London.
The situation might change for the better eventually as Qantas prepares the return of its superjumbos, especially since it has been seeing relatively peak demand for its Sydney-Los Angeles and Sydney-London flights, which hints that the superjumbos might return to visit Singapore as well.
Coincidentally, the re-activation of international flights complements the opening of the Qantas First Lounge at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, signifying progressive steps as the airline moves on to reopen nearly all of its 35 domestic Qantas Clubs and Business lounges across the country.
As for the remainder of its international lounges within the country and overseas, the timeline will be defined by the broader reopening of international borders and recommencement of the rest of Qantas’ global network.
Additionally, Qantas is planning to double up its flight services to India after Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said that the airline has been seeing a big surge in bookings for flights to India.
Previously, Qantas had only serviced flights to India via Singapore, whereby passengers would connect on its codeshare partner, the now-defunct Jet Airways. However, Qantas is now recognizing an opportunity in the market where passengers would prefer to fly directly and avoid the hassle of a connecting flight.
As a result, the airline will be launching a brand-new international route from Melbourne to New Delhi, India that will connect Victoria to the Indian capital for the first time in the airline’s history, with same-day connections to be made available from Brisbane, Australia; Canberra, Australia and Sydney.
The new Melbourne-New Delhi, India service will be operating four-times-weekly throughout the year, starting on Dec. 22. However, flights from Melbourne to New Delhi, India will initially operate via Adelaide, Australia while the New Delhi, India-Melbourne service will operate non-stop.
Joyce said, “While the past 20 months have undoubtedly been the most challenging in Qantas’ history, as we emerge from the crisis we are taking new opportunities to broaden our network in response to unprecedented pent-up travel demand. This is helping us bring more Qantas employees back to work.”
For the rest of its international network, the flag carrier is still slowly warming up its engines as it prepares to reactivate flights Melbourne-London on November 27 and Melbourne-Los Angeles on December 19.