Qantas airline to restart UK to Australian flights in December after Covid vaccine boost

Australia’s government has drafted a plan to begin the gradual reopening of international travel based on Covid vaccination rates

Flights from the UK to Australia are set to restart with Qantas in mid-December, the airline has announced.

The flagship carrier Down Under is hoping to get flights back up and running to several of its major destinations in plans linked to the success of Australia’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout.

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Flights dependent on vaccinations

Qantas has said the flights will restart pending approval from the Australian government and the initial focus will be on countries with high coronavirus vaccination rates.

This is expected to include the UK, along with Japan, Singapore, Canada and the US.

Australia’s government has drafted a plan to begin the gradual reopening of international travel, with this due to start once the country has reached a vaccination rate of 80 per cent - a target which looks likely to be met in December.

Meanwhile, flights to countries with low vaccination rates may not restart until April next year.

Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries likely to be hit with such delays, the airline said.

After more than a year of Covid-19 restrictions, Qantas said its ability to fly non-stop between Australia and London is expected to be in high demand.

The airline is investigating using Darwin as a transit point, instead of its existing Perth hub, due to tight border control policies in Western Australia during the pandemic.

Darwin has been the main point of entry for Qantas’ repatriation flights during the coronavirus crisis.

Alan Joyce, Qantas Group chief executive, said: “The prospect of flying overseas might feel a long way off, especially with New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown, but the current pace of the vaccine rollout means we should have a lot more freedom in a few months’ time.”

Travel industry still struggling

Despite the gradual reopening of foreign travel over recent months, air travel in the UK is continuing to be severely affected by the pandemic.

Just 1.4 million airline passengers arrived in the country last month, Home Office figures show, which is down a whopping 87 per cent on pre-Covid levels.

Some 54 per cent of these arrivals were British nationals.

However, the industry is slowly starting to recover with arrivals up by 14 per cent from the figure of 1.3 million in July last year.

The travel sector has made a desperate plea for the government to ease and simplify current quarantine and testing requirements for arriving passengers due to the fall in demand, which has seen thousands of jobs lost.

The government is due to announce an update to the green, amber and red travel lists on Thursday (26 August), after which more travel options may be opened up.

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