Qantas is likely to fly to several new overseas destinations next year after pushing ahead with plans to resume international flights from December.
“We’ll probably try a lot of new routes internationally as certain borders open up,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said at a virtual business conference on Tuesday, without giving any specific destinations.
Joyce has previously name-checked the likes of South Korea and Taiwan as potential starters based on demand and the establishment of Covid-safe travel corridors based on factors such as high vaccination rates, relatively low community cases and minimal quarantine requirements for returning travellers.
Qantas has previously flown to Seoul and Taipei as far back as 1999, including a seasonal Brisbane-Seoul service over the 2005-2006 northern winter.
The airline plans to resume international flying from December 18 2021 with Singapore, London and Los Angeles all headlining the first week of the airline’s overseas return, along with Tokyo, Vancouver, Fiji and Honolulu.
Hong Kong, San Francisco and Dallas/Forth Worth are back on the map from mid-February, although destinations which “still have low vaccine rates and high levels of Covid infection” – such as Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg – won’t appear until sometime after April 2022.
The Airbus A380s will return from hibernation on July 1 2022 on the Sydney-Los Angeles route, with Sydney-Singapore-London to follow in November.
Joyce also said he’s keen to revisit plans for non-stop ‘Project Sunrise’ services linking Sydney with London and New York as demand for direct flights picks up in the wake of the pandemic.
They would be the world’s longest non-stop commercial flights and rely on a new fleet of ultra-long range Airbus A350-1000 jets fitted with an extra fuel tank to tackle the 18-20 hour marathons.
Joyce also reiterated that the airline will carry only fully-vaccinated passengers on international flights.
The main unresolved issue is quarantine for those returning to Australia, Joyce said. He wants people to be allowed to self-isolate at home before they return a negative test, rather than in a hotel.
Additional reporting by Executive Traveller
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