When would international flights resume in Australia?

Summary

  • The Australian government has highlighted that it is unlikely to ease international travel restrictions until at least mid-2022.
  • Australian Deputy Prime Minister stated that while tourism is bouncing back, the country would focus on domestic travel and hold overseas travel for some time.
  • The government has commenced discussions with international airlines on vaccine passports for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Domestic airlines are also offering free flights and rewards to encourage Aussies to get their jabs.

Times have been tough for travel-hungry Aussies, and the situation might not change as soon as one would imagine. Since the overseas travel borders were closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of international travel has remained a mystery. The restrictions mean individuals cannot leave Australia for any non-essential reasons, for instance, a holiday. If anyone has an important reason, they must first get approval from the Department of Home Affairs.

The Australian government has highlighted that it is unlikely to ease its international travel restrictions until at least mid-2022. According to media sources, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack stated that while the travel industry is bouncing back, the country would focus on domestic travel and pause overseas travel for some time.

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However, Australia could form travel bubbles with Singapore, Japan, and South Korea, but this would heavily depend on the vaccination rate and the COVID-19 cases. Until now, there is no target timeline given for that.

ALSO READ: COVID-19 vaccine booster shots: do we really need them?

When will overseas air travel resume in Australia?

There is no definitive date on when the country will open its borders for overseas travel. However, Australian airlines like Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN) have no plans to resume their international flights until late December 2021.

Moreover, the IATA (International Air Transport Association) highlighted that the flying levels would not be the same as in 2019 for at least the next few years. Even after COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, as per the IATA, trust in overseas travel will take years to recover, and this suggests the need for fewer planes for the next few years.

Many nations worldwide are still battling to contain the spread of coronavirus on a more dramatic scale compared to what Australia has confronted so far. India has recently been hard-hit by the second wave of COVID-19, causing shortages of oxygen and medical supply in the country.

ALSO READ: India offers free COVID-19 vaccines to all as daily cases hit 68-day low

Australia and New Zealand: Quarantine-free travel

Currently, there are travel restrictions in place for international travel from Australia. However, since 19 April 2021, quarantine-free travel has been allowed between Australia and New Zealand. All travellers who have been in either New Zealand or Australia for fourteen days can travel between the countries by air without applying for a travel exemption.

Flights from Victoria to New Zealand were recently terminated due to a recent outbreak within Victoria. The flights have resumed from midnight, 22 June 2021. However, the travel bubble between New Zealand and NSW has been temporarily paused amid the growing coronavirus outbreak in NSW.

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Will vaccination be required before travelling?

Before travelling, the requirement of vaccination seems likely, although airlines, instead of national governments, would take a call. On 21 March, Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, mentioned that air travellers would be required to prove that they have been vaccinated before boarding a plane into or out of the country. 

Furthermore, in May 2021, the Australian federal government highlighted that those permitted for international travel for any business requirement, compassionate reasons, and COVID-19 assistance would be driven up the queue to get a jab.

Moreover, the flight operators across Australia are also encouraging people to get vaccinated by giving away free flights.

  • Qantas is providing vaccinated Australians with the option to win free air travel for a year. The vaccine incentive program is anticipated to launch in July. Moreover, discounts on regular flight bookings plus free Qantas Points and status credits could also be offered to Australians who are fully vaccinated by the end of 2021.
  • Virgin Australia (ASX:VAH) will join Qantas and will offer free flights as an incentive for Aussies to get their jabs.

Digital COVID-19 vaccine passports

Last month, the Australian government commenced discussions on COVID-19 vaccine passports with airlines that operate internationally for people who have been immunised against COVID-19. In May, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that people who have vaccination passports could be permitted to be exempt from domestic travel restrictions.

Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media

ALSO READ: What Are The Risks Of Vaccine Passports?

Moreover, the IATA and Australian Border Force (ABF) have been in discussions related to the use of COVID-19 vaccine passports or IATA Travel Pass for COVID-19 vaccinated Aussies.


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