Qantas pulls almost all international flights to March 2021

It appears that another wave of Qantas flight cancellations is on the way.

By David Flynn, July 12 2020
Qantas pulls almost all international flights to March 2021

Qantas has removed almost all international flights through to the end of March 2021 from its website – a date which would mark a full year since the airline first grounded its international fleet due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the flights themselves have not been cancelled, and all previous bookings remain in place, the move prevents new bookings from being made on any overseas Qantas route except for flights to New Zealand.

Travellers searching for Qantas flights to the likes of Asia, the USA and London through to March 28, 2021 are being shown only flights operated by selected partner airlines such as Emirates, British Airways and Cathay Pacific. 

March 28 marks the cut-over to the Northern Summer 2021 airline schedule period as defined by the International Air Transport Association.

Qantas has been approached for comment by Executive Traveller, but had not responded by the time this article was published.

Closing bookings and pulling flights from the Qantas website is considered a likely precursor to the flights themselves being cancelled, as happened in mid-June when Qantas cancelled most international flights through to late October 2020.

Passengers on flights cancelled by Qantas are entitled to a full refund or can have their booking turned into travel credit, which can used through to December 21, 2022, and also split across multiple bookings instead of being restricted to a single booking.

This could, for example, allow the travel credit for one international flight to be used for several domestic flights.

The long road to recovery

As staggering as this news might be in its implications for overseas travel, it's also far from unexpected.

Last month saw Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce forecast that with the exception of New Zealand and a handful of other 'travel bubble' destinations, all international flying would be suspended until the middle of 2021 unless a coronavirus vaccine is released.

"We might get trans-Tasman (travel) before then, we may get other nations opening up with bubbles," Joyce said last month, but he doesn't expect the Qantas' international network to restart "in any real size (until) July next year.”

"We have to be realistic about it and say with what’s happening in the rest of the globe it is probably an extended period of time" before Australia's borders are thrown open on a pre-pandemic scale, and it would be “years before international flying returns to what it was.”

Qantas has previously noted that "should travel between Australia and other countries open up and demand returns, we can add more flights back into our schedule."

Those flights would largely be the domain of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which will become Qantas' international flagship over the next few years, and the Airbus A330.

Qantas has begun mothballing all 12 of its Airbus A380s, with Joyce expecting the superjumbos to be stood down "for at least three years” until there’s sufficient demand to warrant the return of the 480-seat double-decker jets.

Read: How Qantas will hibernate its Airbus A380 for the next three years


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.

21 Dec 2016

Total posts 39

As an Aussie living in New York, this just makes me very, very sad.


04 Apr 2014

Total posts 208

Same here, living in LA I guess I won't be on a Qantas flight any time soon.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 105

Any international flight from Australia!!

Your American friends are a bit more reckless/ open to risk!

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 241

Thanks for reporting this clearly David, a shame that Qantas have not responded to your questions on clarifying this. Hope they get back to you soon.

If Qantas do intend to cancel flights they should be honest and upfront with customers and give them the option to refund ASAP. This no man's approach is just strange. Let customers who want to take a calculated risk rebook on UA, QR and other airlines who will be increasing flights from Sept onwards.

As a business they should rip the band aid off and move on, instead of damaging the customer goodwill they have left.

07 Mar 2013

Total posts 31

Wow, give them a chance! They've literally just removed the flights from sale. Now they'll start rolling through the process of sending out cancellation notices for people booked on those flights. Perfectly normal and understandable.

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 241

Not true. The flights have been off sale for nearly two weeks now since the day following the 6000 job cuts. I know this as I have a booking to the USA that I have not been able to change or cancel.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1247

Please. Qantas is hardly obliged, let alone beholden, to respond to each and every enquiry from every media outlet.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1025

A large company like Qantas, with PR departments etc, should be expected to be able to reply to media queries, even if that reply is "no comment".

I think it's telling that Qantas has not responded, this makes me think that these flights will indeed be cancelled but Qantas first of all wants to get emails sent to all customers with bookings, and then maybe or maybe not make official announcement, but they probably want to make sure that customers hear about this from Qantas instead of the media. It would not be the first time that the media has been ahead of the game, and credit to ET for so often being ahead of things, but if I had a QF booking for an international trip between October 2020 and March 2021 I would feel a bit peeved if I read about Qantas confirming this on a news website rather hearing about it from Qantas directly via email.

Maybe they want to inform the international staff first who only have stand down notices currently until the end of October.

15 Aug 2018

Total posts 26

There may be another agenda here. Redundancy package details went out to QF International Pilots and cabin crew this week. I guess one would be more likely to take it if one thought resumption of operations was a long way off. Once the redundancies are taken the restart date may magically move forward again ?

05 May 2016

Total posts 631

One wonders if this will force QANTAS to do a further 12 month status extension. If you are unable to travel overseas on QANTAS during the existing status extension it's going to be very difficult for many with status to retain it.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Mar 2014

Total posts 220

It will come, they will need the loyalty after this is all over

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Mar 2014

Total posts 19

I asked Qantas Premium when I cancelled my latest set of flights this week and they stated that Qantas are now reviewing membership extensions based on status earn over the past couple of years.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 28

@MVIY - I certainly hope so! I spoke to a Qantas Premier Customer Care - Priority line as I had my flight cancelled a few weeks ago for travel in October- September to HK and Bali booked on Feb 2020 Double Status Promo

He said or “implied” as per their information at hand a few weeks ago. “If the cancellation goes past next year Feb- March status match / levels would remain extended another year again”

It makes sense - no one/ very few are flying thus there is “no real cost” to airline for keeping people on status levels.

And keep loyalty to those and others whom fly and will return to the skies

Keeps safe all!

FYI: regarding refund be prepared to wait 10-12weeks! It's taken so so long get mine back sadly

Hang in there; and figured the money is hopefully earning them some interest to keep some staff employed

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 122

I had a flight to NZ cancelled for July with Qantas in business class, I booked through flight centre as i wanted to use up some cash i had at home... So they tell me now it will be a 12-14 week wait for the refund! That's insane, what could possibly cause such a delay?

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 241

Next time you take a flight just pay them 12-14 weeks after you take the flight....that is how it works right? :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jun 2017

Total posts 1

I have just received a refund from a Sydney-Auckland flight from 4 April, it has taken about 4 months and I am waiting on other flight refunds also.


03 May 2013

Total posts 668

This is ridiculous. The damage this will have on the economy and peoples lives is significant. Rather than practical and logical travel bubbles Qantas has gone to the extreme.

05 May 2016

Total posts 631

They have to be realistic based on what the government is expected to allow. QF would love the borders to flung open entirely or for travel bubbles I'm sure but with the borders shut it isn't viable for them to fly unsubsidised services.

There are many people willing to fly for reasons they consider essential who are being denied permission to fly.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 320

So would you rather have a foreign owned Virgin Australia doing the international flights had the former owners' foreign governments (Abu Dhubai, Singapore, etc) decided to bail VA out alongside their struggling parent airlines?

The reason why foreign carriers are still flying here is because they are largely subsidised and/or owned by their governments during the current COVID environment

If you want Qantas to operate international flights in this current climate, I would suggest lobby your local MP to perhaps subsidise more of QFi's flights and/or buy into QF to ensure that taxpayers subsidise the QF international flights.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

02 Jul 2018

Total posts 40

That's not good. Originally I hope Qantas to continue flights to Hong Kong.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Mar 2019

Total posts 23

Cathay will still be your best option to HKG if Qantas is not flying. Expect Cathay could even increase flights on Austraia-HKG routes with no competition until March 2021.

I'm sure Qantas will resume flights to HKG once it is 'safe' to do so, even if there isn't the same level of demand as there used to be, and that will certainly be the case these days. Qantas used to have two SYD-HKG flights each day for example, I think we will see this return as one flight per day. But no flights will come back until each destination is 'safe'.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 414

What a sad situation. @MVIY raised a point I was thinking about reading the article re status.

I maybe naïve but if other airlines have some schedules happening, I don't understand why QF is not doing/cannot do the same.

What I am also curious about, with QF not flying internationally, are code shares also scrapped eg QF on EK or BA or AA metal etc? I have not heard anything about that.

05 May 2016

Total posts 631

Executive traveller posted an article just yesterday "Qantas eyes return of Emirates codeshare flights".

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2016

Total posts 33

Does that mean we can cancel our classic rewards booked flight (via a code-shared/partnered airline) for full refunds since they have cancelled all flights till March 2021? The classic reward redemption flight was booked directly via Qantas (operated by MH). Can anyone shade any lights here please?

As the article makes clear, these flights have not been cancelled yet, Qantas has just pulled them from its web site and blocked all future bookings, you will need to wait until Qantas announces it has cancelled the flights before you can do anything about getting points and co-pay money back.


Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2017

Total posts 65

Considering no one knows what is happening from week to week I can see why Qantas isn't cancelling flights months ahead. As for refunds -airline refunds regardless of the airline - have always taken many weeks. I would imagine during this period of large numbers of refunds processing times would blow out.

07 Mar 2013

Total posts 31

I had an international flight with Jetstar that was cancelled in the last round of QF group cancellations. After 2 mins on online chat a refund was confirmed and it was back on my credit card 2 days later.

09 May 2017

Total posts 36

Qantas cancelled our return flight and we asked for a refund - it wasn't clear in emails they were offering one - and were told it would be 9 weeks :(

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Sep 2015

Total posts 45

Perhaps QF will be proved right in their radical strategy . Perhaps they've had an assurance from their Gov mates that flying internationally will remain heavily restricted until that time?

If they've got it wrong SQ and others will be cleaning up.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Jul 2014

Total posts 29

Funny, seems we are interest free money Leander's to Mr Joyce and Co, I've been waiting for a €5879 refund since March 23rd, that should clock in at least €75 pm interest...

08 Jul 2020

Total posts 8

As an Aussie living in London, who has a flight booked and hopes to return in December, this is sad news. But at the same time I can understand why they are doing it. It is easier to add flights at the moment than cop the criticism of cancelling flights. Also I imagine any announcement on international tourism will come with a one or two month heads up anyway, which is enough to add 1 flight at a time to test the market.

At the end of the day you cant be a good and successful airline unless it's good business, which will always involve decisions that will ruffle feathers rightly or wrongly.

20 May 2020

Total posts 3

Hi henry-168,

I recently cancelled a Oneworld classic rewards round the world booking involving multiple partner legs BA/IB/QR/CX. I was due to depart 30 Sept.

Like you, I booked via Qantas - once the flights were actually cancelled I called up and was told that all points plus taxes would be refunded but it could take up to 12 weeks!! The points got credited first after 5 weeks followed by the taxes after approx 7 weeks. You should be Ok but wait for the flights to actually be cancelled first or Qantas will charge you the 6000 point cancellation fee.

20 May 2020

Total posts 3

henry-168 - Just to be clear, I waited for the Qantas flights to be cancelled not the partner airlines - I believe some of the partner airline flights eg QR are still operating

05 Feb 2020

Total posts 30

Sounds like Alan Joyce has thrown in the towel to me. Constantly sending out negative messages about mothballing the airline. Qantas needs someone with guts to pull the business through this. Sit on the sideline for too long and the market will go to others.

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