Qantas pushes back Melbourne-London, Brisbane-USA flights

Soft demand and ongoing border closures puts a spoke in the wheel of Qantas' international reboot.

By David Flynn, October 29 2021
Qantas pushes back Melbourne-London, Brisbane-USA flights

  • Melbourne-London flights delayed to November 27
  • Brisbane flights to LA and Singapore pushed back to February 2022
  • Australia-New Zealand to remain closed until January 2022

Proving that the runway to post-pandemic skies is anything but smooth, Qantas has been forced to delay flights from Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as to New Zealand and New Caledonia.


While Qantas was quick to bring forward its Melbourne-London flights to November 6, following Victoria's move to abandon hotel and home quarantine for fully-vaccinated travellers, the airline says "demand for these earlier flights has been subdued."

"This situation is short-lived, as demand on this route from late November onwards is much stronger," Qantas claims, "leading to the decision for the restart date to be delayed from 6 November to 27 November 2021."

Qantas has confirmed that this will also mean the Melbourne International First Lounge will remain closed until late November.

In the meantime, those Melbournians still eager to head to the UK before November 27 will have the option of joining the Sydney-London flights, which resume on November 1 and are still going strong, especially on the inbound QF2 leg.

"More than 10 additional return services have already been added to this route for November, with particularly strong demand from Australians coming home in time for Christmas," Qantas says.

Executive Traveller understands that the airline is considering opening up additional Classic Reward seats, which frequent flyers can book at the base rate of Qantas Points, on the outbound QF1 service.

Brisbane restart bumped to 2022

As previously reported, Queensland won't allow quarantine-free international travel until early 2022, when it reaches a statewide 90% vaccination rate – as opposed to the original 80% benchmark, which New South Wales and Victoria held to.

This has left Qantas with no choice but to hit the pause button on overseas flights from Brisbane.

At the time of writing, flights to Los Angeles and Singapore now taking off on February 2, 2022, with the possibility that flights to New Zealand could come back a little sooner (see below).

Flights to other international destinations from Queensland will resume progressively in the months following, the airline says.

New Zealand closed until at least January 2022

Hopes of trans-Tasman travel returning in December were also dashed earlier today when NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that hotel quarantine and limits on the number of arrivals will continue for people travelling from Australia.

This will see Qantas and Jetstar push back flights from Sydney and Melbourne to at least January 3, 2022.

"These dates could be pushed later should these restrictions remain," the airline adds. "Qantas and Jetstar are ready to ramp up flights when people can travel freely between Australia and New Zealand again."

New Caledonia

Finally, Noumea – a popular and idyllic getaway for many east coast Australians – will remain out of reach for a little bit longer, with flights pushed back by three months.

Sydney-Noumea is now being rescheduled to March 27, 2022, with Brisbane-Noumea following on April 2, 2022.

Qantas says that its customers booked on any of those cancelled flights will be contacted by Qantas or their travel agent "and provided with several options, including rebooking to a later date, or receiving a refund or flight credit. They do not need to call contact centres."

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 242

Didn’t Qantas make a song and dance about Melbourne-London only a week ago?

How can anyone have confidence in booking flights if they get cancelled less than a week later?

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 101

Totally agree just had several flight cancellations with CX and  no alternative options provided . I now have no confidence in booking anything as it is not worth the pain and anguish  associated with airlines cancelling with short notice leaving one stranded .

25 Feb 2021

Total posts 3

I've given up on scheduling any international flights for business until at least March 2022, just for this reason...

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 527

I agree. All across the region I've noticed that things will only get back to full swing (more or less) from late March or April 2022 onward.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1192

We have been told for months that restrictions caused by hotel quarantine have meant there are huge numbers of Australians stuck overseas and desperate to return to Australia.  If this were true, sales on QF10 should have boomed meaning the return service would have been economic even if QF9 was only half full.

I now wonder if these desperate returnees actually exist in the numbers we were led to believe.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1426

Reeve given the sale fares and frequent flyer seats the half full going may have been wishful thinking. I’m sure they’re full coming back but it the plane may be better used with additional flights elsewhere.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 116

Quote: ....additional Classic Reward seats, which frequent flyers can book at the base rate of Qantas Points, on the outbound QF1 service." That's probably a moot point if there are limited Classic seats on the return QF2. I have noticed a few redemption seats available on EK & CX metal up to LHR during Q1/Q2 2022.  

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 410

You don't have to do a return points booking. Nothing wrong with getting a Classic Reward business class seat on QF1 and then paying for the return leg on QF2, or even using Qantas Points for QF1 and coming back on another airline, using Qantas Points or maybe KrisFlyer Miles on SQ for example.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 May 2018

Total posts 60

The chances of Qantas getting passengers out of Qld , with the antics of our govt (North Korea outpost 2 - WA being no 1), requiring double vaccinations @ 90%+ is NIL. There is no way that people will leave here to be faced with 2 weeks of  being locked up in Toowoomba etc on return. Vacc rate today is 63.2%. Don't invest in anything tourism related in Qld.. your money will be gone!

01 Oct 2021

Total posts 19

I think because who do thr Kangaroo route from MEL-LHR should just fly with Emirates, SQ or Qatar. There will be more demand on those airlines and Qantas will see how bad they are that no one would want to fly with them. MEL-DAR-LHR is probably the worst route QF have in there routes. I'd rather go via Dubai or Singapore in an A380 and spend time in the F lounges there then have a 90 minute stop at a very small/isolated airport. 

Pretty poor form on Qantas' part to cancel flights a week out. Put a flash sale or something on if demand has been lower than expected. They're currently charging on average $1.2k each way with very few classic reward tickets on an inferior route. 

This cancelling of tickets just brings back the nightmare some of us had during early pandemic of getting our refunds and travel plans amended. It undermines any confidence Qantas wanted us to have to get travelling again. 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 410

Yeah, I wonder if the demand was low in both directions? I hear that all inbound flights are doing well because everyone's trying to get home especially those who've been stuck overseas during Covid, but outbound flights are only busy in the first week and then it tapers off. Maybe Qantas could have done a sale on MEL-LHR legs, but then if there's no seats coming back or they're super expensive, that still would have put people off.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Mar 2018

Total posts 29

The Nz situation is absolutely ridiculous, Jacinda is now being as bad as Qld/WA 

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 14

Surely this is just PR spin from Qantas, swallowed whole in the story.

The real reason is that Qantas are now down one of their 787s after the incident at the gate in (ironically) Brisbane last week when the hull was gashed?

Qantas didn't quite have enough planes back to operate their already limited service, and they certainly don't now. It'll take a month to fix the 787... which is exactly when the service will start.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1426

Dorn very good point. Planes are scarce so giving a couple of weeks to fix a broken one makes sense. Also the outward loads are not flash.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 410

I think you're reading too much into this. I believe all of Qantas' Boeing 787s are on deck and 'ready to roll' as they say, except for the one damaged at Brisbane. Qantas will only be flying the 787s SYD-DRW-LHR and SYD-LAX from next week, and not even daily. And that's it. So it has plenty of 787s to go around.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 210

Couldn't be that. VH-ZND the aircraft in question has flown BNE-MEL-LAX and looks like it will be operating the first quarantine service into SYD from LAX tommorow.

10 Jun 2015

Total posts 10

I agree that this sudden change in flight schedules out of MEL are due to 1) lack of aircraft-damaged 787 and 2) not enough cabin crew returning from their secondary employment-mainly CQV in Mel. I heard the Qantas crew are on a very very good salary with CQV (almost double their QF salary) so no wonder QF are having problems getting them to leave CQV to come back flying! Incident-CQV=Covid Quarantine Victoria which took on hundreds of stood down Mel based Qantas staff for the last 18 months. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 155

MEL - LHR. So where exactly is this massive pent-up demand for outbound travel we've been told about all year that will literally explode once flights are scheduled??? Clearly sales have been so disappointingly lack-lustre that a three week delay was necessary (and who knows after that?) I'm not knocking QF, or their customers. I'm just genuinely puzzled that many aviation 'talking heads' have told all of us repeatedly that London flights will be absolutely 'chockers' once flights are scheduled. Oops! Still, I don't expect a mea culpa any time soon.

When it comes to 'aviation talking heads' I know of only one (from Perth, does a fair bit of TV) and who's been consistently beating the drum about this massive surge of pent-up demand. I think everyone else knew that

a) the surge would be inbound, due to removal of quarantine for NSW and need to get home and be with family again, especially in time for Christmas

b) while there'd be an initial surge in outbound, say for the first week or two of flights at most, after the second week it would drop because everyone who wanted to fly to London to reconnect with family over there, show parents the new grandkid born in the past 18 months who they've never seen etc, would have made that flight. This is exactly what happened with the AU-NZ bubble, first week was chockers, Qantas had something like 3 flights per day SYD-AKL, from maybe the second week demand dropped off and Qantas started to merge the two morning flights into one and drop some evening flights.

I think outbound demand will pick up in December when school holidays begin, that's when we will see a second wave of families with school-aged kids flying out, but a lot will still wait it out to see what happens in Nov-Dec in case there are any UK outbreaks, sudden introduction of tighter travel rules etc.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1426

Lost the UK is in a hopeless place re COVID: things will tighten up, but to what extent is the unknown. That is why people don’t want to go: first they may get stuck; and second they may catch COVID and even a mild case still may not be much fun.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 527

I think that is the concern everywhere Patrick. Even during the short-lived Aus-NZ travel bubble, there were temporary suspensions days into the bubble, which certainly didn't create confidence. Potential travellers probably noticed there was a trend once Queensland, then Western Australia and later Victoria had their flights suspended and this meant demand nosedived as people were worried they would get stuck. Once flights with NSW were suspended, it didn't take long for the pre-departure PCR test requirement to be introduced by New Zealand, which added cost, complexity and further uncertainty.

Then lo and behold, 3 months after the bubble started, it was suspended indefinitely. Now on hold until early January 2022 by the looks of it.


30 Jul 2015

Total posts 109

Australia use to be (probably still is) a wonderful country as a tourist.  Make no mistake about it.  The world saw how the Australian government brutalized its own citizens.

People and business will quietly just not show up in Australia for a long long long time, and tourists will just go elsewhere.

Many of my friends have soured on Australia and NZ.  It's a flat no without explanation (but I know why).

Qantas is just making a money grab for cash (understandable - but its crapping on its passengers nonetheless)!   People will prefer to use Emirates, and non-Australian carriers.


09 May 2020

Total posts 553

I agree that QF’s move is only going to push pax to those who have more certainty of flying as scheduled (as the various middle eastern government supported airlines has demonstrated for the 18+ months of pandemic.

Although it makes sense not to fly unprofitable flights, consumer confidence already guarded by ever changing border rules (but not in UK or EU so far) and additional trouble of organising leave and costs of testing etc, is not helped by flight cancellation or rationalisation and the now-well-known QF cancellation refund policy and processing efficiency. Surely there would be enough vaccinated Australians in UK to make the return flight worthwhile? Or are people on the wait list no longer wishes to return but didn’t bother to update their status?

Looks like QF didn’t learn from REx’s cut and change scheduling in the last 6 months (which is understandable for a smaller airlines with not so deep pockets but nevertheless it gains themselves a certain reputation and trust issue amongst those who are looking for an alternative to the QF and VA J class product).

That means QF is sticking to the list-and-switch strategy on their website and they haven’t feel the repercussions of those pax unhappy experiences of having sold US bound flights late last year to be cancelled out of profitability. 


30 Oct 2021

Total posts 2

Could someone please accept that QLD will never reach 90%, they struggle to achieve the 80%.

With a blind eye Premier in charge and a less than helpful team of supporters, the current rules will never see international flights again.

The aviation, hospitality and tourism sectors are once again drowning in political BS.


09 May 2020

Total posts 553


Agree with your assessment. 

Too much point scoring activity in their approach

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 65

its not going to work in reality - People will fly into Sydney either drive up to Qld once 80% vax rate is reached or just fly in on a separate domestic ticket.

Again what is is the difference between fully vaccinated traveller from NSW or VIC (with Covid Exposure) and fully vaccinated traveller from overseas (with again same covid exposure)???

Makes zero sense 


09 May 2020

Total posts 553


People entering QLD need to fill in a border pass declaration which will ask about overseas travel 

Some may argue people can fill in a false declaration but if anyone wants to do that, there is no point waiting for the 70% or 80% dateline which is in nov and dec respectively 

The QLD-NSW border is a hot political potato and the Qld politicians will not hesitate to shame anyone getting caught breaking the rule coming from NSW

31 Oct 2021

Total posts 1

Shouldn't they consider reopening the Melbourne International First Lounge on 22nd November for the MEL-SIN flights commencing on that date instead of 27th Nov as reported in this article?

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 39

A lot of uninformed hysteria about QLD again in the comments.  


30 Oct 2021

Total posts 2

“Uninformed Hysteria” Would you care to explain your side of the QLD story.

I work in the aviation industry, I’ve been stood down on two occasions, March 2020 until February 2021 and again July 2021 until present, I’m totally informed about what is happening.

To hear that QLD will remain closed to International arrivals until January 2022, at 90% vaccination rate just doesn’t make common sense.

The people of QLD have access to the vaccine, yet they are complacent in getting it, they alone will be the reason why International Airlines and Tourists will travel elsewhere, there are no other people responsible.

All I can add is my encouragement for QLD to get vaccinated and get that done sooner than later, COVID is coming, either by Air, Sea or Road.


09 May 2020

Total posts 553


You are most welcomed to call out lies and untruths (people are still allowed to voice their personal opinion as long as they indicate it is an opinion, just like you are entitled to disagree with them)

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