Qantas is fast-tracking the revival of a number of key global routes and launching a new Sydney-Delhi service, the national carrier has announced today.
The Australian flag-carrier is also bringing two Airbus A380 superjumbos back into operation three months earlier than planned; reviving the jobs of thousands of staff who had been laid off due to COVID; and accelerating the delivery of three brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Qantas said the faster ramp-up follows the Federal and New South Wales governments confirming that international borders would reopen from 1 November 2021 and the decision by the NSW Government to remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals – which significantly increases travel demand.
Coupled with the phased reopening of domestic state and territory borders, Qantas Group plans to reinstate some 11,000 workers stood down due to the pandemic across Qantas and Jetstar’s domestic and international operation in early December.
“Combined with operational and corporate employees already working, the Group’s 22,000 employees are able to return to work in December, which wasn’t expected to happen until June 2022,” Qantas Group said.
Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO said: “Australians rolling up their sleeves means our planes and our people are getting back to work much earlier than we expected.”
“This is the best news we’ve had in almost two years and it will make a massive difference to thousands of our people who finally get to fly again.”
International schedule update
Qantas plans to launch a new route from Sydney to Delhi on 6 December 2021 with three return flights per week with its A330 aircraft, building to daily flights by end of the year (subject to approvals). The new Delhi route would initially operate until at least late March 2022, with a view to continuing if there is sufficient demand.
Flights from Sydney to Delhi would operate via Darwin, while flights from Delhi to Sydney would operate nonstop.
Joyce said Delhi has been on Qantas’ route for some time, and the service is expected to appeal to the VFR market: “We think there will be strong demand from family and friends wanting to reconnect once borders open,” he said.
The updated international schedule also includes:
Sydney to Singapore: Qantas flights will resume on 23 November 2021, four weeks earlier than scheduled, operating three days per week with A330 aircraft. Services will ramp up to daily from 18 December 2021.
Sydney to Fiji (Nadi): Qantas flights will be brought forward to 7 December 2021 from 19 December 2021. Four return flights a week will be operated by 737 aircraft.
Sydney to Johannesburg: Qantas flights will resume on 5 January 2022, three months earlier than scheduled. Three return flights a week will be operated by 787 aircraft.
Sydney to Bangkok: Qantas flights will resume on 14 January 2022, more than two months earlier than scheduled. Five return flights a week will be operated by A330 aircraft.
Sydney to Phuket: Jetstar flights will resume on 12 January 2022, more than two months earlier than scheduled. Three return flights a week will be operated by 787 aircraft.
Qantas is also eyeing a return to Bali for fully vaccinated Australians with reduced or no quarantine requirements, which could bring forward the resumption of the Sydney-Bali (Denpasar) route “months earlier than scheduled”.
The latest update builds on momentum for international travel, with Qantas saying bookings on flights between Sydney and London and Los Angeles have been “extremely strong”, requiring the airline to add 10 additional return services on the LHR route due to demand from Australians returning for Christmas.
Flights to Honolulu, Vancouver, Tokyo and New Zealand remain scheduled to commence from mid-December 2021, with other destinations to restart in the new year.
The initial flights will be limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families and parents.
Joyce continued: “We know that Australians are keen to get overseas and see friends and family or have a long-awaited holiday, so bringing forward the restart of flights to these popular international destinations will give customers even more options to travel this summer.”
“We’ve said for months that the key factor in ramping up international flying would be the quarantine requirement. The decision by the NSW Government to join many cities from around the world by removing quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers means we’re able to add these flights from Sydney much earlier than we would have otherwise.”
“We hope that as vaccination rates in other states and territories increase, we’ll be able to restart more international flights out of their capital cities. In the meantime, Sydney is our gateway to the rest of the world,” Joyce added.
“In recent weeks, sales on international flights to and from Sydney have outstripped sales on domestic flights, which shows how important certainty is to people when making travel plans.”
Qantas has further accelerated the return of its fleet of A380 superjumbos by three months. Two of the A380s will resume operation on the Los Angeles route from April 2022, and another could arrive before the end of the year.
A further three A380s will return to service from mid-November 2022 with the remaining five expected to return to service by early 2024.
Qantas is also looking to bring forward delivery of three brand new 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, currently in storage with Boeing, several months earlier than planned as demand increases.