Qantas coronavirus rescue flights for Australians stranded overseas

The Red Roo is likely to return to international skies to help bring Australians back home.

By David Flynn, April 1 2020
Qantas coronavirus rescue flights for Australians stranded overseas

A wave of international Qantas flights could take wing this month as the airline works with the Government to bring home thousands of Australians stranded overseas.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed plans for a series of special repatriation flights are underway, saying “we are continuing to work with Qantas on further flights”, following previous Qantas charter flights from China, Japan and Honolulu.

“There are literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Australians at any time overseas,” Payne told ABC Radio. “We will support as many Australians as we can to come home.”

International rescue

Virgin Australia is also in discussions with the Government to run flights to rescue stranded Australians “where existing commercial flights are exhausted.”

Some repatriation flights will be to new destinations for the airlines, such as ports hosting cruise ships where cases of COVID-19 have been reported on board.

Speaking with the media prior to the grounding of all Qantas’ international flights, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said “if the Government feels we need to operate (unscheduled) services to bring Aussies back home, we of course would be open to doing that with them.”

“There are a lot of expat Australians around the globe. For us, there is unknown about how many ex-pats are offshore and how many want to be repatriated.”

“The government’s working through that data, with people contacting the various embassies around the globe… it may mean we’ll keep some links open to help people get back.”

London calling

Qantas is also in discussions with the UK Government about flights to London, which were suspended last week following a brief re-routing from the long-standing Singapore stopover to Darwin.

“We are liaising with Qantas to keep flights operational” noted Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to Australia, in an email sent on March 29 to British travellers still in Australia.

“We are working tirelessly with airlines to ensure planes keep flying, as well as with the Australian Government and international partners to keep commercial routes to the UK open.”

Qantas’ Oneworld partner Qatar Airways has temporarily ramped up its Australian presence with triple-daily flights to Sydney, a double-daily service to Melbourne, reinstating its 517-seat Airbus A380 to Perth and adding a new daily flight to Brisbane.

“Different airlines around the world have reduced or stopped flying (and) at the same time you’re also seeing governments suggesting new travel guidelines and advising citizens to come home,” Simon Talling-Smith, Qatar Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, tells Executive Traveller.

“And I think on top of that you’ve just got this increasing sense of longing for home because people feel safe at home… so that is what we are wholly focused on right now – how can we get people home from right around the world.”

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.

01 Apr 2020

Total posts 4

I'm all for Qantas and others sending repatriation / rescue flights! My suggestion - to make it more cost effective - is to allow U.S. citizens (myself included) to secure passage back to the states. No need to send empty planes!

My only regret is that it appears to be safer here in Oz at present, and it's my favourite international destination - but I do need to get home eventually.

Those stuck in India should be the priority. It's dangerous there now...

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 243

Dangerous in what way?

This was my situation 2 days ago...

I'm in Goa, India along with travellers from many countries. Flights were cancelled and are now halted for the coming weeks.

The Federal government made a surprise 1 day public curfew which the state government extended and expanded upon, and we are now in day 5 of a 21 day federal lockdown. Nobody had any time to prepare.

Shops were emptied in panic with people crowded in, many without masks. This was clearly a botched shutdown that could have easily spread the virus.

A delivery system was supposed to be established for food and medicines, which didn't happen. Food is now in short supply. Even if it wasn't many foreigners don't have kitchens.

Restaurants that mercifully stayed open for take-away are allegedly beaten by cops. Cops have also apparently beaten up people searching for food.

Armed federal cops who supposedly don't hesitate to beat up even the elderly are on their way from Delhi. It's a full-on wartime curfew with a dangerous edge.

Scooters are being confiscated. The beach is closed, and cops deter swimmers with sirens. Not even a walk with distancing is OK!

Covid 19 might get us but poor nutrition/dehydration or a beating are much more clear and present dangers.

Several countries rescued many of their citizens. Germany is now extracting it's people and other EU citizens. US and Australia are apparently assessing whether enough citizens are here to warrant helping.

Essentials shops have reopened with distancing but everything is in short supply or unavailable. Delivery trucks haven't come in around 2 weeks.

ATM is meant to be OK but 1 of 8 cops blocking the road said I should not come again, while his colleagues stopped bikes and hit drivers with canes.

Drinking water is unavailable. I have a friend with a purifier but its far and I'm not sure if I will get caught, hit or have my scooter taken.

Pharmacies have no essentials like masks, sanitiser, ORS, vitamin c, or antibiotics that could help treat secondary infections. Deliveries are not expected.

Locals range from helpful to terrified to angry at foreigners who "bring coronavirus".

It's a mess to say the least, and a potentially dangerous one.

Those who could feel trouble coming and got supplies early are still ok but now most essentials are low. I probably have a week worth of food at a stretch.

While I only have online contact it seems many others are already not so great.

I also understand the state and federal governments' concerns about hindering the coronavirus so the hospitals aren't overloaded, as could so easily happen here.

It's a tough tightrope they are walking, but a bit more forethought into cause and effect, and some more humanity wouldn't go astray.

Fingers crossed. I hope you are all safe and well.

#covidindia#covid19india#covid19outbreak#covid19#coronavirus#India#Goa#Arambol

01 Apr 2020

Total posts 4

Man! I wish you the best of luck! You and others' plight is real and dangerous. I understand how governments must assess the problems and develop strategies to keep their citizens safe. Maybe they can't send airliners to bring each and everyone home from the far corners of the globe, but perhaps they can look into procuring passage back to a little "piece of homeland" within whatever country - via their respective embassy. That may be a much more practical and feasible plan of action. All citizens deserve the protection of their governments, no matter what.

I can't imagine what you and fellow travellers are coping with and I pray for your safety. I'm very grateful and thankful to be "stuck" in Australia.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 321

What and Europe isn't?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1219

You think the European experience is similar to India? LOL ok buddy.

Here is the first media coverage of the situation, from a few days ago, seemingly coinciding/prompting the Aus govt response that they would try to send rescue planes...

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/28/australians-trapped-in-indias-coronavirus-lockdown-fear-running-out-of-food-and-water

Aus will apparently try to get people out of Delhi and nowhere else, but state land and air borders are closed so it doesn't help anyone not lucky enough to be in capital when the surprise lockdown was announced.

Aus also says the flights will be expensive and not offering to subsidise them which is slack. They can afford to put returnees up in 5 star hotels for quarantine but can't chip in to get them home. Germany made it cheap (around 500 Euros each) and chartered Lufthansa and Air India planes from many different cities... they got the job done.

If the Germans have enough resources and influence to make it happen surely Aus could too if they decided to throw some resources at the problem.

Australia is not the lucky country anymore, it's the shit out of luck country, particularly for it's citizens trapped in India.

06 Nov 2019

Total posts 9

Your India experience sounds really challenging.

I was in South Africa when the Aus Gov urged its citizens to return ASAP and to Do Not Travel . I knew my insurance would be imperiled with the Do not Travel advisory issued by the government. It would be silly to not heed the government's advice. Yes I cut my stay short by almost a month. Yes I'm self quarantined. Yes it was at a cost to change my travel arrangements , But I'm grateful I respected the advisory.

I couldn't allow myself to be in a position where my well being and safety would be out of my control and I couldn't expect anyone else to pay for my poor decisions

Adriancolumb did you consider DFAT's advisory?

The logistics, stress, challenges and financial burden on the government to repatriate thousands and thousands of people in far flung corners of the globe are significant. The travel advisories were issued more than two weeks ago and their issuance received significant media coverage.

The cost of chartered flights, hotel lodging for 14 days and the resources devoted to a charter is unbelievable. Needless to say, the health consequences for crews and supports staff to man these charters is compromised.

Yes the government has an obligation to support its citizens when they're abroad, and they did, they issued a DFAT warning to EVERYONE- this was their assistance in the first instance. They could only expect that people would listen to them.

Your situation is not ideal and I hope all will be resolved when the indian government intervenes and places a more reasonable means to access basic provisions.

Hi yes they did warn people but there was no time to get out before the Indians closed flights.... anyone who had a ticket home was stranded by this as was anyone stating too remotely to get near an airport in time. The only way home for many is a rescue flight. I got out on the German rescue flight but I was the only non-German and only because they had just 1 spare seat. I am now on day 1 of quarantine in Melbourne thankfully. I have friends still there in India though and its very worrying what might become of them. Australia needs to do something! Just flying out of Delhi as is being planned is also not good enough as most people can't get there across state borders. Germany spent 50 million Euros to get their people out from all over India because it's the right thing to do. Australia seemingly cares more about the money than doing the right thing by it's people. I guess human lives are cheap to them and chartering planes is expensive. So glad I got out without waiting for Godot.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Aug 2016

Total posts 9

When did you leave Australia?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Aug 2017

Total posts 16

Why are Qatar allowed to increase flights when borders are supposed to be closed? I would have thought that meant except cargo or repat flights no flights would be allowed to land with passengers.

I left in September 2018

They are doing it to bring people home to and home from Australia, and if not for them I'd still be in the transit area of Frankfurt Airport. I'm eternally grateful they are still in the air. I guess if you get very cheap/free jet fuel as is probably the case in Qatar it's viable to keep flying when there are less than 10 passengers on a whole plane.

06 Nov 2019

Total posts 9

Your India experience sounds really challenging.

I was in South Africa when the Aus Gov urged its citizens to return ASAP and to Do Not Travel . I knew my insurance would be imperiled with the Do not Travel advisory issued by the government. It would be silly to not heed the government's advice. Yes I cut my stay short by almost a month. Yes I'm self quarantined. Yes it was at a cost to change my travel arrangements , But I'm grateful I respected the advisory.

I couldn't allow myself to be in a position where my well being and safety would be out of my control and I couldn't expect anyone else to pay for my poor decisions

Adriancolumb did you consider DFAT's advisory?

The logistics, stress, challenges and financial burden on the government to repatriate thousands and thousands of people in far flung corners of the globe are significant. The travel advisories were issued more than two weeks ago and their issuance received significant media coverage.

The cost of chartered flights, hotel lodging for 14 days and the resources devoted to a charter is unbelievable. Needless to say, the health consequences for crews and supports staff to man these charters is compromised.

Yes the government has an obligation to support its citizens when they're abroad, and they did, they issued a DFAT warning to EVERYONE- this was their assistance in the first instance. They could only expect that people would listen to them.

Your situation is not ideal and I hope all will be resolved when the indian government intervenes and places a more reasonable means to access basic provisions.

There is a group at https://m.facebook.com/n/?groups%2F598023977454902&aref=1585867977348785&medium=push&mid=5a25cdb387393G5afcd0cb460aG5a256a97356b1G96&app=612424062191227 for Aussies stuck in India. Anyone wishing to follow their plight and/or help should check it out...

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 18

An interesting anamoly to the MEL-PER-LHR flights is that they're operating out of Terminal 1 in Perth! I guess when QF have no pax connecting from other domestic destinations they don't care quite as much, though part of me is still shocked they didn't insist on using T3 anyway.


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