Qantas readies ramp-up of international flights

With Australia open to tourists from February 21, the airline aims to move fast and make the most of an expected travel surge.

By David Flynn, February 8 2022
Qantas readies ramp-up of international flights

Qantas is likely to fast-track the restart of several overseas routes and boost the number of flights to key destinations when Australia welcomes back international visitors from February 21

The airline’s international reboot has been a gradual step-by-step affair since regular overseas flights returned on November 1, with inbound travel largely restricted to Australian citizens, permanent residents and members of their immediate family.

That all changes from Monday February 21, with Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce circling the date in his dairy as meaning “Australia is finally back open for business.” 

“We know there are lots of international tourists who want to come to Australia. There are also a lot of business travellers who will finally be able to be in the same room as their customers or local teams after almost two years apart. This means they can now book to come here with confidence.”

To help bring them to Australia, Joyce says “we will be looking at our schedules to see if we can restart flights from more international destinations sooner or add capacity to those routes we are already flying.”

Qantas is already flying its double-decker Airbus A380s between Sydney and Los Angeles, with the superjumbos rejoining Sydney-London (via Singapore) from June 19.

Up next is the February 16 restart of the direct service between Sydney and Dallas Fort Worth, while March 27 sees flights to Manila and Bali bouncing back. 

And while flights to San Francisco have been suspended until July, there’s now a chance those might return earlier, given Qantas’ previous statement that the airline is “continually reviewing opportunities as demand comes back.” 

New destinations on the map

Qantas is also working on a number of all-new destinations to be rolled out this year, some of which could now launch sooner rather than later,

“We have a range of new international routes to announce over the next couple of months,” Joyce told Executive Traveller in December, following the announcement of flights to Delhi and Rome.

The airline’s primary focus in the short term will be leisure travel and the ‘visiting friends and relatives’ market.

“What we’re doing at the moment is picking routes where we know there's a huge VFR traffic base,” Joyce explains. India is a big market for that, and that's why we went in… and we were right, there was huge demand.”

“And with Rome, with the big Italian communities in Melbourne and Sydney we thought the peak summer season would support the basis of that service and then we can tap into tourism on top of that.”

Delhi, Rome and other fresh destinations will make full use of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, “which have huge capabilities to do routes that we hadn’t considered before.” 

“We have three new 787s arriving from July, which opens up an opportunity for us to expand the international network.”


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.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 230

I think a grain of salt need to be added here- the last 2-3 huge expansions on routes / committing to routes / relaunches have amounted to next to nothing. One would think it would be more like a steady/ gradual build up over time - and all airlines will be involved / do the same when the market show rational long term numbers.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1193

With their current premium heavy configuration, the QF 789s are not particularly suited to VFR heavy routes.  QF has used its A332s on its Felhi routes which, with their Y heavy config, are more suited to this market.


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 316

A bit of realism is required about our hopes of an immediate surge in arriving tourists.  The ABC reported today where our tourists in 2019 came from.

15.4% from China, but ongoing tensions and their own tough quarantine requirements will affect many

14.8% from NZ, but the issue remains about possible quarantining when they return to NZ

8.9% from USA, but the CDC has recently recommended against travel to Australia

7.8% from UK

5.2% from Japan, but they are still under tight border restrictions themselves

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 233

Very good numbers there Phil. I don't think anyone reckons things are going to magically snap back to the way they were pre-COVID, it's going to take years, but yes, even just counting those countries bar the UK and allow maybe a quarter of the US 2019 market that's almost 40% of our 2019 tourism market. I think second half of this year we will see NZ and Japan and US but still softer than 2019.

USA has already bounced back, just not with qantas.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1435

Regular Australia is on a level four travel warning for the US and the bug is at its peak. ‘Bounced back?.?’…indeed!!!

yes Australians are flying to USA. Many not concerned about travel to USA at all.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 534

I doubt very many Americans are concerned about the CDC warning. Americans, like many Aussies, will travel once they're allowed to. The prospect of wearing a mask on a 14 hour trans-Pacific flight to Australia might deter some though (it would certainly deter me). I wonder when this restriction will finally be lifted. It outlived its usefulness long ago and is a nightmare for those travelling with young children in particular.

when flew to USA last month, did not see 1 person woken up because their mask "fell off" while asleep. I hate masks, as interferes with my breathing, so didn't wear one over mouth & nose whole flight (but I had 1 on around neck). Most parts of USA that was in have now got rid of mask mandates completely.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1017

NZ is opening up to allow vacationed NZ residents/citizens back in without quarantine from mid March.

vacationed quarantine free travel from Australia is due to start in July and global reopening in October.

Japan current has most prefectures (34 of 47) under their "quasi emergency" status as they deal with Omicron. Japan got hit by Omicron in mid Jan, so they are about 5 weeks behind Australia.

They were just beginning to reopen the border in November when Omicron appeared and their plans were suspended. They currently plan to resume at the end of Feb.

Australia is one of the few countries which are NOT on Japan's denied entry list, nor on the visa validity suspended list, but is subject to "reinforced quarantine measures". Though a visa is required as the visa exemption program is suspended.

will NZ get many Australian tourists this year ? Probably not many. Will any skiers go with uncertainty of when exactly they can go ? From 1 July ? 31 July or later ?


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1435

Phil I agree. It will be VFR for a while and now an easier ride for them. Tourism will build up slowly as who wants to be sick/isolated on a holiday.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 678

It seems to me that what Alan Joyce may be missing is a recognition of 'real world' feeling regarding Australia's "lock all borders at whatever cost" mentality.

A quick perusal of many US-based travel blogs will reveal a surprisingly large (and frankly, unexpected) "anti-Australia" travel sentiment, with many contributors expressing the opinion that it "will be a long time before they would visit any country which would lock their own citizens out of their country ~ or even lock borders within that country". It simply does not fit America's "land of the free" mentality.

Whether you, as an Australian, believe that this is right or wrong - is irrelevant .. and not the issue. It is a finite fact that the travel intentions of Australia's "desirability" as a destination has changed somewhat markedly over the past 12 months.

I'd suggest that both Qantas and the Australian Government are both going to have to invest a small goldmine for 'positive' advertising in countries which were previously 'friendly' countries in terms of tourist exchange. 

And this is directly aimed at the VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and the native tourism / sightseeing sector.

And while absolute commonsense in - my opinion - the requirement for full vaccination by both Qantas and the Australian Government to enter .. will create further negative angst in certain quarters. It is possibly one of the very few things we still have in common with mainland China at this point in time.

& yet flights I was on to USA last month were very full in both directions ? All Australians ? Maybe. It was much cheaper than usual January fares.


09 May 2020

Total posts 548

If AJ wants to take advantage of any international interest in coming to Australia as tourists, he had to do it soon. 

Historically international arrivals is lowest between April to June (no surprise there) but generating interest and planning takes more time and people are less likely to travel at short notice given the frequent changes in COVID-19 rules in origin, transit and destinations. 

So while there is no real point in ramping up big time in March just to see the demand drop in winter….. inbound VFR crowd may change that a bit but not that much, more likely outbound VFR (still have to fly but doesn’t consume local (Aussie) tourist fare and more likely to stay with friends/relatives than hotels. 

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 534

Indeed, good points. I think that whenever the world finally moves on from Covid and governments are no longer in panic mode with regular closures and short-lived reopenings, followed by another round of closures or restrictions and all emergency laws are rescinded, travel will bounce back quite quickly. In the same vein that travel was halted almost from one day to the next, we're likely to see the opposite occur once restrictions are finally lifted.

This time round, it's a little uneven though, as countries start to reopen, but not every country's definition of "reopening" is the same. In general, we can say that for most countries, they're still very much in "pandemic" mode, even if they're starting to remove quarantines and travel bans.

In others though, especially Europe, travel is starting to resemble near normalcy. Aside from a PCR test requirement to get on a plane and/or enter most countries (though this is starting to be lifted) and a mask to fly, everything else is back to 2019 normal.

Asia-Pacific is a different matter. They're still mostly in 2020 mode, but also slowly but surely starting to change.

we did our RAT at airport the day before depart to USA. They said in broken english, if get a +ve result, come back & do another. We had the results, a few minutes after leaving airport. When we flew home we still needed a PCR test (no longer required). Got a free one & had results within the hour. Talking to people on flight home & some from Qld & to avoid stupid quarantine in Qld, they were flying to SYD & then getting a domestic flight to Qld. They even said they were getting their passports posted from SYD so they wouldn' t have them on them when they arrived in Qld. They were flying with skis. Apparently, they got rid of quarantine in Qld before reach 90% double vaxxed, as so many people were flying via SYD to avoid, as told to us by someone we know who flew back into BNE & they border force people laughed about how many were avoiding flying internationally into BNE.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 452

it would be great if WA opened up to the rest of the country.Ex adelaide after qantas dropped the nonstop to Singapore services all those years ago(1982-2013)via perth brought back a much better timed one stop service to the UK and the wait time would be about identical as the old QF81/QF9 and other way but shorter QF10/ it would be lunchtime ADL/PER in time for the overnight to London USING DOMESTIC sectoes both ways.on the return you would be home well before the old services had left Singapore and went through the night back to ADELAIDE.

went to USA last month. Flights in both directions 80 to 95% full on days we flew in school holidays. How do I know these numbers ? Was in business class & 1st on the aircraft on all sectors & some immigration guy told us the number of passengers on the aircraft. Look up seats capacity & it's not hard to work out the load factor. BTW - We would never fly very expensive Qantas. Not sure why others do.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

05 Apr 2019

Total posts 5

Flew to Canada on Qantas this week. Flight looked 80 to 90% full. Qantas up to it's old tricks to shaft and gouge Australians. During the pandemic shutdown they changed the North American rules. Now you have to have your skis, boots and all other clothes and checked luggage in the one bag, almost no one owns such a bag. If your skis are in a separate bag you will be hit with a second bag fee even if you are within the 32 kg limit. Do not believe what customer service tells you on the phone that skis are an exemption to the new 1 bag limit. That is what they told me and then shafted with a $300 excess baggage one way fee at check-in.  Avoiding Qantas in the future they not reasonable and do not honour what they say.

flew to LAX start of last month on BY FAR the best airline across the Pacific (Fiji air). SYD/NAN 97% load, NAN/LAX 86% load, LAX/NAN 80% load, NAN/SYD 98% load (all flights in school holidays & easy to get load as being in business class back row, could easily here conversation when door opened). We took skis/snowboards. We had a special (private) deal through the snow holiday wholesaler for extra bag which included an oversized ski/board bag, so checked baggage 30kg + 15kg. Was told without this special deal, ski bags would have cost $240 each way. The fare was $999 in economy but we upgraded the NAN/LAX & LAX/NAN legs to probably the best business class across the Pacific in best aircraft A359. NAN/LAX upgrade was AU$1120 & LAX/NAN upgrade was AU$1180. We didn't pay to be upgraded SYD/NAN or NAN/SYD but they upgraded on these sectors anyway. So we flew business class the whole way for au$3300. Best flights I've ever done to USA & we got to use the excellent lounge at NAN & they let us use the star alliance lounge at LAX (don't think many other lounges were open). We didn't use any lounge at SYD as they upgrade us at the gate (think economy was overbooked) We flew with other who were going to Vancouver & onto Whistler to ski. They were having a night in LA & then they flew on Qantas frequent flyer tickets LAX/Vancouver & back as they didn't want to pay the insane nonstop fare on Qantas, which they said was $4000. They only upgraded one long haul sector on Fiji air, so their fares were just over $2000 each & no excess baggage for skis/boards. We all earned Qantas frequent flyer points.


the only negative to upgrading on fiji air, is their online bidding is a blind auction, so can't see other bids. I think they would be better off having an open auction, as would have paid more to fly in business.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2549

Comment moderation has now been turned on for this article, due to the high number of comments serving off into topics such as vaccination and Covid itself: topics which shouldn't be contentious but as usual are getting into the same old repetitive back-and-forth as we have seen for almost two years now.

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