Qantas will launch nine international repatriation flights across the December-January period to bring home thousands of Australians from the UK, Europe and India.
The flights, arranged in conjunction with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), will depart from London, Frankfurt, Paris, New Delhi and Chennai.
As with previous rescue missions from London and New Delhi, they'll will arrive at Darwin, where passengers will begin their 14-day quarantine at the Howard Springs camp before flying on to their final destination within Australia.
Located 25km south of Darwin, Howard Springs was previously used to house Australians who were evacuated from Wuhan in the early stages of the pandemic, and also for passengers stranded on the Diamond Princess cruise ship after it docked in Japan.
The Australian Government says that more than 400,00 Australian citizens and permanent residents have returned to Australia since the nation began bolting down its international borders in March as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.
However, it's estimated that at least 40,000 more are still stuck overseas, with 36,000 Australians having already registered with DFAT to return.
"We will keep working to bring as many Australians home by Christmas as possible," Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said today.
Travel on the Qantas repatriation flights is being arranged through DFAT, which is now contacting people who have registered with the department.
Fares on the Qantas Boeing 787 repatriation flights are expected to begin at around $2,000.
For example, on the Qantas flight departing Frankfurt on 12 December, seats on the Boeing 787 are available across all three cabin classes from the following prices:
- business class, €5,372
- premium economy, €2,241
- economy, €1,297
All passengers will undergo a COVID-19 test at a Qantas-designated test provider within 24-48 hours before departure; the test is free, but a negative test result is of course needed in order to travel. In addition, face masks must be worn for the duration of the flight.
Qantas is also selling seats on the outbound Boeing 787-9 flights from Australia to London, Paris and Frankfurt.
Those flights begin at Sydney and make a stopover at Perth, under similar arrangements to the Dreamliner's original Melbourne-Perth-London route.
The Sydney-Perth-London QF9 service departs Sydney on 26 December 2020 and 12 January 2021; QF175 to Paris departs Sydney on 13 December 2020; and QF115 to Frankfurt departs Sydney on 9 December 2020.