It was suggested last year that international travel could return to Australia by October of this year, but with Qantas now offering flights to Australia in July it looks like it may happen sooner than anticipated.
Before you hit the ‘buy’ button it’s important to note that overseas travel is currently banned in Australia until at least March 17, 2021 – one year after it was first imposed – and there are no definitive plans to lift it as of yet. There are some hopes that travel bubbles could be imposed by July but officials may not open the borders to international travelers until the vaccine has been widely rolled out.
That hasn’t stopped Qantas from being optimistic. The Australian carrier has started selling international tickets to and from Australia, with flights starting from July 1. The airline, which was recently named the safest in the world, said it’s aware that international travel could be pushed back further, and as such is offering customers full refunds, a free change of date or travel vouchers if their plans are disrupted by an extension of border closures.
“Recently we have aligned the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021,” Qantas said. “We continue to review and update our international schedule in response to the developing COVID-19 situation.”
Despite Qantas’s expectation that international travel will restart from July 2021, the government has made it clear that the airline’s decision is a “commercial” one and, for now, there are no plans to reopen the country so soon. “Decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian Government,” deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said. “Operations and ticket sales on particular routes are commercial decisions for airlines. International borders will be opened when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the goal is to have community vaccination in Australia by October 2021. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has also said that a potential vaccination policy could determine future international travel.
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