Qantas, Virgin repatriation flights from London, USA, Hong Kong, NZ

Routes to four popular international destinations will temporarily re-open to help bring stranded Australians home.

By David Flynn, April 4 2020
Qantas, Virgin repatriation flights from London, USA, Hong Kong, NZ

Qantas and Virgin Australia will mount a series of repatriation flights to London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Auckland as part of the Federal Government's push to bring home Australians who remain stranded overseas.

The special flights will run across April, starting from the end of this coming week, with 13 flights each week. Passengers can book onto the flights leaving Australia or the return leg, with airfares fixed at a flat rate for every seat.

The Government is subsidising the cost of fuel and crew; below decks, the aircraft will be loaded up with outbound cargo to assist the Australian export market, with imported freight and medical supplies on the return leg.

Qantas coronavirus repatriation flights

Qantas will run ten flights each week, each on a Boeing 787-9, which can be booked only through Qantas.

  • Melbourne-London-Melbourne (via Perth, although no passengers will be allowed to leave the plane at Perth) and Brisbane-Los Angeles-Brisbane will be weekly
  • Brisbane-Hong Kong-Brisbane and Melbourne-Hong Kong-Melbourne will run twice a week
  • Brisbane-Auckland-Brisbane and Melbourne-Auckland-Melbourne will run twice a week

All passengers will pay the same fare but won't be able to specifically book into a specific cabin such as business class or premium economy, with a basic meal service provided.

No frequent flyer points or status credits will be issued, and due to cost-saving measures there's no inflight entertainment.

Virgin Australia coronavirus repatriation flights

Virgin Australia will run three flights each week, each on a Boeing 777-300ER and bookable only through Virgin Australia.

  • Brisbane-Hong Kong-Brisbane will be twice a week
  • Brisbane-Los Angeles-Brisbane will be once a week

Homeward bound

“Many Australians will be able to get to one of these four destinations. They can do so knowing there will be an Australian airline to get them home,” says Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, whose office led the initiative after Qantas and Virgin wound down all international flights last week.

“Where there are no commercial options available, the Government will consider supporting, on a case-by-case basis, non-scheduled services to other overseas destinations."

“We are continuing our constructive discussions with Qantas and Virgin on flights to less accessible destinations, including South America and the Pacific," Payne added.

Qantas has also been in discussions with the UK Government about flights to London, which were suspended last week following a brief re-routing from the long-standing Singapore stopover to Darwin.

“We are liaising with Qantas to keep flights operational” noted Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to Australia, in an email sent on March 29 to British travellers still in Australia.

“We are working tirelessly with airlines to ensure planes keep flying, as well as with the Australian Government and international partners to keep commercial routes to the UK open.”

David

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.

04 Apr 2020

Total posts 3

Please don't tell me the Australians are sending empty planes from Australia to London when there are hundreds of British people stranded in Australia! Why can't the two governments work together!! Absolutely ridiculous!

05 Jul 2019

Total posts 2

The Australian government is subsidising the flights, but you are able to book on Virgin Australia and Qantas for the outbound flights. Example, Qantas has a flight on 12 April Melbourne to London, with set price fare of $1,336 AUD.

JCG
JCG

04 Apr 2020

Total posts 1

After a 38 minute wait on the line to speak with Qantas in London (got off the phone at 17.43 April 2020), where I am currently located and I was put through to a South African call centre with a crackly line that meant I could barely understand what the person was saying.

I eventually was told there are no repatriation flights and you cannot book a flight with Qantas unless you have an existing booking. Thanks Qantas, the pride of Australia, for letting me and all the other stranded Australians in London down. I'll just tell my elderly parents to keep fending for themselves shall I?

I agree with the commenter above - Qantas, sponging off the Australian government to send empty flights and not actually take the Australians who need the flights to get home because they don't have an existing booking, shame, Qantas, shame. How about actually providing the service you are being funded to provide?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 387

The new flights that Qantas will be running ex London are not yet in the system - they're still working out the details with the Australian High Commission. Just give them a chance to make it happen.

oxy
oxy

03 May 2017

Total posts 23

On the plus side you are very lucky having such a short wait time, many people have reported waiting several hours.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 24

That's awfully terrible mate; I totally agree we have family here from London that need to get home ASAP they came in on 30 Dec 19 for a long stay travelling plans for 5 months and Qantas won't even let them head home on these “empty” planes!!

On another note having traveled QF biz several times fully paid to South Africa and needed to use their call centre for matters regarding flights it's SHOCKING! their ground crew speak terrible English- they are too the worst checkin staff clearly have not got the much loved Qantas friendly service- Especially in Business class and platinum guests!

Regardless my point is I have since found that Qatar are still flying and have very reasonable prices and thus you'll get the perks of points and status credits! So that maybe an option?? Qatar still fly to most major hubs here in Auz from all over the world - all the best! Keep safe

04 Apr 2020

Total posts 1

Being in Vietnam, I was looking to head home via Hong Kong but the information I find is that HK has banned all incoming non HK residents, including transit passengers from about the 26th March for at least a couple of weeks. I could be misinformed, but if that is the case then it is kind of pointless just picking up Aussies from HK and not from other parts of Asia if we can't get to HK. Cheers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Dec 2017

Total posts 50

MH are still running their flights to Sydney (maybe other cities too) so that could be an option

17 Nov 2011

Total posts 25

Agree -- confused as to why Hong Kong would be picked when Cathay is still flying to Sydney at the moment and no foreign residents are able to enter the city anyway.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 581

You may notice that the flights from Virgin and Qantas are not flying to Sydney. So maybe the choice isn't about Hong Kong but Brisbane and Melbourne where the flights are going.

10 Apr 2016

Total posts 45

Is the delay in getting this up and running due to the airlines being greedy and trying to gouge the Government to do same.

04 Mar 2015

Total posts 17

Flights from AUckland are already available.

04 Apr 2020

Total posts 1

Emirates has cancelled all flights from SP to Dubai/ Dubai to Perth. This time, they just offer me a travel voucher which value less than 1/4 of price I paid for the ticket. It s very unfair for us as passengers who are desperate to fly back home with no other solution available.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 769

If you paid by credit card, organise a chargeback.

22 May 2011

Total posts 69

I just can't understand why there are still so many people overseas needing repatriation flights when this has been going on for weeks now and there was plenty of notice to get home. It's not like the worlds borders closed instantly after the announcements. Were these people living under a rock, or just not taking it seriously?

Qantas

02 May 2016

Total posts 56

@pungpui.....you are making a poor assumption all of us are simply holidaying Aussies travelling the world, which is not the case. In my case I've been living in the US for 8 years, just sold our house and we're mid relocation back to Melbourne, these things cannot just be packed up, closed, done and get on a flight because the govt says come back now. In the situation of holidaymakers/leisure travelers I agree with you....but there are thousands of us not in that situation.

04 Apr 2020

Total posts 3

Agree. I have two sons, one in Tokyo who is home now and one in Sydney, whose work contracts both came to an end 31 March. Sydney son has had 3 flights cancelled on him and has just paid out a further £1300 pp to fly back to London on Qatar on a sector normally charging £470. he will only get vouchers as compensation as airlines not abiding by 261 Regs which I find incredible.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 24

Katekenward - that's a shame! I hope they're ok! I was just booking my families flights home on Qatar for next week and they are certainly not £1200 pounds - they were only $1250 AUD one way via Doha on Qatar to London.

This was melb-Doha- LHR Heathrow....

Perhaps check skyscanner and direct with Qatar...

Biz was more than usual; $7500Aud to $8/9k AUD! One way!

Keep safe

04 Apr 2020

Total posts 3

Thanks Shannonbarry51

Either the Qatar website was working my algorithm to its benefit but I didn't see any fares that cheap SYDLHR. Today, I notice their prices are cheaper which makes me cross as we had to pay so much. Really, the fares are up and down like a yo-yo. Its a lottery which I suppose is a reflection of the chaos out there, travel wise, at present.

07 Apr 2020

Total posts 2

As someone who is stuck overseas this makes me so mad - we really weren't given that much time. I booked many flights from France to Australia and they were all cancelled at the last minute. If you look online there may look like there are lots of “flights” but they all cancel at the last minute - or the connecting flight gets cancelled so you would be stuck in the connecting country

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 62

So, I see QF 747 VH-OEG is flying to LAX now (QF6001. Would that be a repatriation flight, or retirement to the sands of the desert???

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 450

Reported as withdrawn on The Qantas Source. This may just be the plan that was already in place to progressively withdraw the 747s by the end of the year. I guess the crew will need to come back on a repatriation flight after they complete the delivery to the final destination.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 62

@gregxl

Interesting. Suppose it's to be expected.

Although the crew could hitch a ride back to Oz on the sole remaining link to the US via SFO although it is United flight.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 24

This is a really wonderful gesture from the Cabin Crew and Captains including engineers etc of all these airlines - especially the crew whom are risking their health to bring home their fellow citizens or residents to loved ones! A truly selfless thing to do!

I can't believe that Qantas would shutdown the inflight services of Entertainment and limit food and beverages as announced today on their site...

We all know cost cutting is needed but buying the rights to allow some entertainment and a much needed Vino or G&T to calm some passengers would be essential! Plus no business or First is allowed!? So odd....

It's a terrible experience to have to endure a flight this long and not have any means to be calm... I'd be shocked to see how many they will cram into economy and if they will hopefully do spatial seating with no passengers having to sit next to each other!

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 581

There are essentially charters, not normal passenger flights. That would be why economy only and basic catering.

And frankly yeah it might be a pain sitting for 20+ hours, but at the end of the day you would be coming home, so i think many will be happy.

10 Jul 2015

Total posts 13

With the exception of Hong Kong, I don't see how people can claim to be "stuck" in these destinations. Qatar are still running flights from several european cities, AirNZ still covers the Tasman and United are flying from SFO to Sydney.

07 Apr 2020

Total posts 2

There may look like there are lots of flights back but really they all get cancelled at the last minute or the connecting flight gets cancelled - leaving you stuck in the stopover country

407826

07 Apr 2020

Total posts 2

Hi, I am in Kenya and I have a returning flight with Qantas in Nov. I would like to return to Australia by changing my flight or rebooking again. How can I get a flight from Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta Airport back to Australia as hear there are repatriation flights connection through London and through Hong Kong?

407826

07 Apr 2020

Total posts 2

My final destination on my ticket is in Brisbane how can I connect a flight from Nairobi to Brisbane?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 24

That's quite the location to get home from!

I have family in Nairobi and Northern Africa - they have flown on Kenya Airways from NBO Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta to LHR London

Then

LHR London Heathrow to Brisbane on Qatar

Just saw this leg Option still is available! - check some multi stop options command on skyscanner or other search engines.... ?

See example found: on skyscanner multi stop - $3300 economy - 35hours - embrace the long layover in Doha is what I have seen a lot; unfortunately... hopefully you're platinum or oneworld elite ruby / emerald for the much needed rest stops!

All the best! Get home safe!

05 Feb 2020

Total posts 23

I was supposed to return from Dallas to Sydney end of last month. The week before the flight Qantas emailed saying my flight was cancelled but dont worry we are rebooking you and will let you know ASAP. There's no need to do anything. I received 3 text messages over the week saying the same thing and then it all stopped ? So Im still in Dallas and wondering if Im forgotton in the panic.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qantas, Virgin repatriation flights from London, USA, Hong Kong, NZ