Government hits back at Qantas on July restart for overseas flights

"Decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian Government."

By David Flynn, January 5 2021
Government hits back at Qantas on July restart for overseas flights

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has taken a shot at Qantas over the airline's decision to resume selling tickets on international flights this week.

The move, as first reported in Executive Traveller, sets up a July 1 reboot of Qantas' international network, which was grounded in late March 2020 as the scope of the coronavirus pandemic became clear.

McCormack, who is also Minister for Transport, responded today that the government and not Qantas would decide when international travel could resume, and that would be when it no longer posed a risk to public health.

"Decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian Government," he said. "International borders will be opened when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians."

McCormack also said "the Australian Government is working on travel arrangements with countries, such as New Zealand, that have low community infections."

Qantas says its decision to reopen bookings to Asia, the USA and London for travel from July reflects its own expectations of a vaccine rollout and "that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021."

The airline added that should any flights not go ahead, would-be travellers would receive a refund, be booked onto another service or receive travel credits to use against a future flight.

McCormack's colleague and Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia "is on track and ahead of schedule" in its vaccine approvals process and he now expects all Australians will be "fully vaccinated" against COVID-19 by October 2021, an advance from the previous target of the end of 2021.

The federal government has a purchasing agreement for 10 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 54 million doses of the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine, with 50 million of those to be manufactured in Melbourne.

Each vaccine will requite two doses per person – one starter and one booster, administered 2-4 weeks apart – and pending approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, are expected to be available from March.

Read more: Qantas reopens bookings for all international flights from July 2021

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 42

He is an idiot. Qantas can run all the flights they want regardless of Australia’s travel ban, just like all the other international carriers are doing and have done throughout the pandemic. 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 987

...but QF can't have Australians on outbound flights because the government controls the borders and is not permitting departures without permits.  Inbound capacity limits mean they probably can't have more than 20 people on any flight back into the country.  So yes, they can run the flights but, without pax, it ain't going to happen.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Mar 2019

Total posts 19

SQ and QR have been collectively flying to and from PER, MEL, ADE, SYD and BNE throughout the pandemic and serving a very important role in servicing Australian citizens and other travelers who needed to travel into or out of the country and were authorized to do so.  So why shouldn't QF now be planning for resuming scheduled international flights in July! They could already be servicing some of the routes that other airlines have been filling in for over the last 9 months. 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 987

Of course QF can offer any routes they like but realistically QR, SQ etc have been operating routes based on under-floor freight.  They have typically been operating with load factors of >20% so pax revenue is incidental and is nowhere near enough to make the flight economic.

The criticism of QF is not that they plan to operate more routes but that they are taking money and raising expectations that people will actually be able to travel when currently this is not the case.  Even QR, with daily flights to SYD and MEL can't guarantee carriage with lots of people finding themselves off-loaded in the 24 hours prior to departure.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 987

In other words, any purchase of an international air ticket before the government clearly reopens borders is just giving airlines an interest-free loan that you'll be fighting to get back later in the year.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Oct 2020

Total posts 3

QR have been doing this for months, while quietly cancelling passenger flights. Yes, they fly, but freight is the carriage.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 361

These flights are not going to happen and Qantas knows it. If people are silly enough to book them then more fool them. I can only assume Qantas wants a revenue sugar hit and to tie peoples money up for months on end.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 469

Some people are so desperate to travel they prefer to remain oblivious to the obvious reality of international travel restrictions, both on the outbound end and at their destination, than wait until things have actually returned to normal.

I won't be travelling anywhere until at least 1-3 months have elapsed since things are back to normal. This means I won't be making any bookings until after the borders have actually reopened, as doing otherwise would be foolish (consider the last minute suspension of the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble as a guide).

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 75

I guess Qantas could offer a full refund guarantee if the federal government plays hardball at the time if booking your flights. These tickets that go on sale will probably have a condition attached that you must have had the covid-19 vaccination prior to departure otherwise you will be refused boarding and probably void any refund as this was a condition of sale. So if you decide to book and fly internationally in 2021 read the fine print of the conditions of sale as travel insurance will not cover covid-19 treatment or hospitalization. If you become covid-19 positive and end up in hospital overseas. It will be a very expensive overseas holiday.  

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 469

I doubt Covid vaccines will be a travel requirement in 2021. More than likely the airline would only require a Covid-19 negative test result and any other requirements that the destination country sets. Ultimately governments, not airlines, will set the policy despite what Joyce has stated. What happens beyond 2021 remains to be seen.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 71

And refunds can take over 8 months as my Syd-Sfo return J trip demonstrates, scheduled for October 2020, which I cancelled in April!! The revenue was held for this duration.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 52

We all know that it is companies such as BHP, Qantas etc that run the country, not the Federal government. (Scomo can't even control the state premiers) Personally i won't be going overseas until next year. But there is no good excuse not to re open the international borders by the 2nd half of this year. Deep down, i suspect the Federal and state governments can't wait to re open the international borders. Especially Queensland and Victoria, since the economies of these states rely so much on international tourists and overseas students.

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 53

Whilst the debate will turn into Qantas doing this for cash ... I just dont know why airlines dont come up with a deposit setup.  Pay $xx and have a ticket which you have to 90 days prior to departure and have x amount of flight changes, though fare differences may apply.  You could through in some bonus points or status credits to appeal.

It wont suit everyone, but it will entice some.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 98

Given what’s happened with airline refunds over the last year (and not just Qantas) unless you had a cast iron contractual commitment that you got a full refund within x days if flight cancelled then, at least in my view, you’d have to be a total idiot to start booking what can only be speculative flights at this stage. 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 454

AFAIK the current ban on outbound travel is due to expire on 17 March and given the government have been giving at best 1-2 months notice before extending the ban as reflected in 2020, it is not as if QF is playing close to fire by selling tickets from 18 March (I assume from the news report, I haven't bothered to check for flight availability from March or April to the US)

On the other hand I do think the excuse of requiring a vaccination passport is simply wearing thin as it is obvious the none of the major vaccines our media is so excited about (Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford) has shown anything more than reducing the severity of the illness if the vaccinated person contracted COVID-19 and does not actually do anything to reduced the infectivity or transmission of the virus in vaccinated person, which is the whole point of wearing mask keeping distance and all the HEPA hooplah about air filtering spin by the IATA and other airline representatives. 

I always thought that it will be some sad irony if the Chinese or the Russian vaccine proves to be a better product down the line and can both reduce severity and infectivity; granted their trial results are sketchy but hey the media was quite happy with spruiking up the US and the UK vaccines with the parent company press release of the efficacy trial for almost 2 months, until the proper (but yet very limited) study information is made available for some sort of scrutiny in the last 7 days. 

Some animals are obviously more equal than others particularly when big multinational companies in EU and US are involved. 

But I digress.

Just pointing out that AJ probably need to get better medical and scientific advice before further announcing who are the deserving people who are fit to be pax on international QF flights (other than paying QF big money of course), as what we know about the vaccines so far is not going to stop infection from spreading and certainly does not mean quarantine is not required

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 247

How about the federal government focus on getting the federation working again (which ceased to exist since Covid began) instead of giving advice to private companies?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 238

Qantas won't operate flights with restrictions in place like SQ and QR have, they will only run flights if the government is subsiding them. Regardless whose buying a ticket - if your stupid enough to hand over your money knowing you will get a flight credit in return then go for it. Id rather keep my money.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 987

I was surprised QF said that if the flights don't go ahead they will give a travel credit.  This is a red flag to me.  Surely, QF should have to refund the money; giving a flight credit seems insufficient given current circumstances and the high likelihood that they will be unable to provide the service they are selling.

12 Feb 2013

Total posts 49

Something suspiciously tells me this ambitious plan is all about getting as much needed cashflow in the form of forward bookings to make the books look good for the end of FY reporting ending 30 June. QF is after all a publicly listed company accountable to shareholders and don't run a charity.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1386

If outward bound eases as is happening and likely to continue I can see Qantas adding passengers to its current A333 freight runs to many ports in Asia. The only reason they don’t, in my mind, is load restrictions both coming and going. If the government eases restrictions on departing passengers then the numbers might add up to adding a bunch of flight attendants on each flight. Wider opening won’t happen until later in the year when there will be enough people vaccinated that if they do catch the bug it will be a common cold (and just another corona virus).

OWF
OWF

06 Oct 2018

Total posts 12

There we go again, repeat of 2020... I have had enough, I'm immigrating to Proxima Centauri b.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Apr 2011

Total posts 107

Good luck getting a flight ;-)

15 Oct 2020

Total posts 4

Is there any other Government on this planet that are interfering and making public comments in regards to the commercial operation of a national carrier? Disgraceful.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 336

Is there any other airline which has decided to jump the gun on selling international flights to the public when there's no evidence from the government that the international travel ban will be lifted by then, or even advice as to under what conditions such as vaccination people might be allowed to travel?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1386

QFP1 I think most airlines serving Australia are selling seats to the public. I think off the top of my head there are about six of them. Two Middle East, two or three Asia and two US.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Oct 2020

Total posts 3

Selling seats, but bumping passengers - QR is a case in point.

15 Oct 2020

Total posts 4

QFP1, What international travel ban? Oh, thats right, the only travel ban anywhere in the world that is place to stop their citizens from leaving and entering they own country, brilliant! I'm sure it does raise any constitutional concerns.

The Government wants an early election and they want the roll out of the vaccine and the opening of the borders to be their ticket to success, don't be fooled that this is all for the sake of our own best interest. 

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 469

I could be mistaken, but China and Italy are also preventing their citizens from non-essential travel abroad. For Italy, travel within the EU/Schengen zone is allowed, but outside of Europe a waiver is required.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 668

The USA has a ban in place for non-essential travel to the UK and the same is true for UK to USA travel with the British Government.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 127

Please correct me if i'm wrong, why do you think there would be a ban on international travel after the vaccine is rolled out.

so theoretically vaccinations start March 1, and booster dose on April 1, why should that person who got both those shots be stopped from travelling? 

Am i missing something here? Isn't qantas thinking of this? Plus, in countries like the US where there are close to 5 million people who have had it, would be eligible for travel within few weeks (to countries like australia)?

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 469

That's not how it will work. Governments will remain cautious to see how well the vaccine works to create immunity. It's already been stated many times that quarantines could remain in place for a while, possibly even years. This was recently mentioned in an article on news.com.au

Don't expect the vaccine to facilitate a quick return to travel in any way, shape or form. I'm fairly certain Australia won't drop the quarantine requirement until at least the second half of the year and even then probably only for a few travel bubble countries, not the entire world.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1386

Mscooper being vaccinated protects tge vaccinated person from the harsh effects but we don’t know how infectious they will be to the unvaccinated. When everyone is vaccinated and tge symptoms are like a common cold then restrictions will ease but until then I suspect governments will be cautious.


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