Qantas will mount rescue flight from Lima, Buenos Aires and Johannesburg, with the possibility of additional repatriation flights to follow for India and the Philippines.
A spokesman for the airline has confirmed to Executive Traveller that each of the flights will rely on a Boeing 787, which can carry up to 236 passengers, although in at least some cases fares are being sold at a flat economy-only rate.
Details for these latest flights will be confirmed in the coming days, "with information provided directly to registered travellers", said Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
Qantas flights to Lima, Peru
A Qantas flight to the Peruvian capital Lima will depart from Sydney as QF2027 on Sunday April 12.
After making the 14 hour and near-13,000km trek to Lima, the flight is scheduled to depart on Monday April 13 as QF7028 and return to Brisbane.
Travellers will have to pay their own way, with fares sold as economy-only and showing on the Qantas website at $2,549.
"As they are commercial services, passengers are responsible for purchasing tickets (but) where there is a great difficulty or a real difficulty for Australians to afford those flights, we have of course encouraged them to engage with friends, engage with family," Payne suggested." We also do have provision for traveller emergency loans."
Payne says that 280 Australians have already left South America on a flight organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with South American airline LATAM.
Qantas flights to Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, India, Manila
Argentina and South Africa are next on the list, with Qantas flights operating as a commercial one-off service to and from Buenos Aires and Johannesburg.
Subject to regulatory and operational approvals, the details of those flights "will be confirmed in the coming days," Payne said. "We are also working on facilitated flights from further destinations in the coming weeks, including to India and the Philippines."
She said there were particular concerns for Australian citizens in India, which is in the middle of a country-wide lockdown. "There are tens of thousands of Australians in India at any one time, many of them long-term residents of course," she said.
"We are actively trying to identify options for a commercial charter flight." This includes "ensuring that these flights have the necessary clearances and approvals in countries where Australian airlines normally don't fly," she added. "Some of this is new for Qantas so we are assisting with that process."
Back to BA, Jo'burg
Qantas flew to Buenos Aires until March 2012, when it shifted from the Argentine capital to the Santiago hub of Chilean flag carrier and Oneworld partner airline LAN (later absorbed into LATAM, which will leave the Oneworld alliance on May 1).
The airline also maintained a regular presence on the Sydney-Johannesburg route until it suspended all international flights at the end of March.
That 14 hour trek was flown by a Boeing 747 but was due to be replaced by the more fuel-efficient Boeing 787, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce told Executive Traveller in June 2019.
South African Airlines was the only other carrier offering direct flights between Johannesburg and Australia, but axed all international flights on March 21 in response to a government travel ban aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
Qantas and Virgin Australia are also operating repatriation flights across April to bring home Australians stranded in the UK, the USA, Hong Kong and New Zealand.