Qantas: international travel "at a virtual standstill" until mid-2021

New Zealand may be the only overseas destination open to Australians for the next six months.

By David Flynn, December 3 2020
Qantas: international travel

Qantas says international travel will remain "at a virtual standstill" until at least the middle of 2021, apart from the prospects of flights to New Zealand under a trans-Tasman bubble.

While allowing that this could change depending on the speed of vaccine rollout, the airline's current assumption is one of "no material international travel until at least the end of June 2021" beyond NZ.

The domestic front presents a brighter outlook with states reopening their borders, with combined Qantas and Jetstar capacity now standing at 68% of pre-Covid levels for December and a target of 80% by March 2021.

"Overall, we’re optimistic about the recovery but we’re also cautious given the various unknowns," noted Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce in a market update this morning.

"There’s been a rush of bookings as each border restriction lifted, showing that there’s plenty of latent travel demand across both leisure and business sectors."

"We’re also seeing people booking several months in advance, which reflects more confidence than we’ve seen for some time."

However, Joyce warned that "it's unclear what shape the domestic economy will be in next year, particularly once broader government support winds back. Until a vaccine is rolled out, the risk of more outbreaks remains."

On the financial front, the airline expects to post "a substantial statutory loss" for the 2021 financial year once June 2021 rolls around, although it will hit break-even point and move into "recovery mode".

But the road to recovery will be a long one, Joyce said.

International travel – which is typically worth over $8 billion in annual revenue – "will take years to fully recover, which means we’re carrying the overhead for billions of dollars worth of aircraft in the meantime."

"We’re also facing a revenue drop of at least $11 billion this financial year alone compared to pre-Covid," Joyce said.

"We also have a lot of repair work to do on our balance sheet from the extra debt we’ve taken on to get through the past nine months.

“That’s why we remain focused on delivering on our recovery program, which unfortunately involves following through on some hard decisions to restructure and respond to the new set of circumstances we’re faced with."

Also read: Qantas says vaccination will be compulsory for overseas flights


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.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 May 2020

Total posts 21

A). QANTAS are not the Australian Federal Government  And  b).  it is not the only Airline that would be thinking about flying in / out of Australia in 2021 ....  Pete Evans makes more sense than AJ  sometimes

27 Aug 2013

Total posts 31

Hey captain you’re correct that other international airlines will be thinking about flying in/out of Australia, but the thing they won’t be able to do is actually fly passengers that haven’t been vaccinated into Australia. The whole point of closing the border was to prevent a flood of cases into the country and to suppress it until it can be controlled effectively with a vaccine. The country hasn’t gone through a year of misery for the Australian Federal Government to reopen borders on a whim and without enforcing a requirement for travellers to be vaccinated. You can have Pete Evans and I’ll stick with science.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 May 2020

Total posts 21

↑↑  When did the Federal Government announce ( or pass / amend legislation and/or policy .... ) that after Australia re-opens its international border that only peoples that have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to fly in? Who announced this and on what date was it announced? Was it Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton? Was it Health Minister Greg Hunt? Was it ScoMo? Was it Pete Evans?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 418

"Visitors to Australia may be required to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination, according to the government's new National Vaccination Policy", see

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 521

QFP1 is correct that this has been discussed, but at this point nothing is set in stone. The article does say "may" not "will" given this policy could change 10 times between now and then.

Remember, the Qantas CEO said vaccines may become a condition of travelling with them on international flights and "maybe" domestic flights. Later on he amended his comments to say that only international flights would be affected and New Zealand bound passengers wouldn't required to take one either. This exemption could also be extended to passengers arriving from countries/regions with low infection rates/green travel lanes, which in the case of Qantas destinations really only applies to 4 countries: Thailand, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Fiji.

All other countries/regions/territories that Qantas serves would likely require a vaccine (or medical exemption) under their updated terms if this plan goes into effect.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 521

So for the record, no laws have yet been passed and given the difficulty with implementation, different vaccine schedules in different countries, different vaccines used (the Chinese and Russian ones, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Oxford etc.) this is going to be a political hot potato for a long time.

I personally hope it never happens, but I'm not going to speculate on it further, suffice to say, we'll know it when it happens.

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