EXPLAINER

'Best news': Qantas CEO Alan Joyce unveils new international flights

International travel has been brought froward to November 1. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
International travel has been brought froward to November 1. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

"Australia is ready for take-off," Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared on Friday.

Qantas has brought forward departures to just ten days' time. Pent-up demand prompted the biggest day of redemptions in its history, with half a billion points cashed in.

CEO Alan Joyce described the past 20 months as the "darkest period" in Qantas' history, but confirmed all staff will return before Christmas.

"[This is] the biggest and the best news that we have had in two years," he said on Friday.

The airliner's first international long-haul flight since March 2020 will take off from Sydney en route to London on November 1.

That will trigger a staggered reopening of its traditional routes, with Australians able to head to a range of destinations across Europe, Asia, and Africa by early next year.

But with each setting its own requirements for quarantine and testing, some uncertainty remains over what international travel will look like.

Here's what you'll face when you head overseas.

Where can I go?

The UK and US for starters.

Qantas flights between Sydney-London and Sydney-Los Angeles are the first cabs off the rank, beginning on November 1.

That will be followed by flights to Singapore from November 23, Fiji from December 7, and Johannesburg from January 5.

People looking to travel to Thailand won't have to wait much longer, with flights resuming in mid-January (Phuket from January 12, and Bangkok two days later).

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the imminent return is the 'best news' the airliner has received since the pandemic began. Picture: Getty

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the imminent return is the 'best news' the airliner has received since the pandemic began. Picture: Getty

A new route to Delhi, via Darwin, is also pencilled-in for December 6, but that's pending approval from India.

Flights between Melbourne and London return on November 6, six weeks ahead of schedule. Flights between Melbourne and Singapore have been brought forward, too, and resume on November 22.

Talks are ongoing over when Australians will be able to travel to Bali. The island welcomed back foreign tourists a week ago, but there are currently no direct flights from any Australian airports.

International travel from Canberra Airport, which serviced flights to Singapore and Qatar, is still some way off.

Will I need a vaccine?

Kids are exempt.

Anyone aged 12 or over will need to prove they've received two doses of an approved COVID-19 jab. That includes the three currently available in Australia - AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna - along with Johnson & Johnson.

Australian passport and visa-holders can currently apply for an International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate. Applications can be made as soon as they've received a first dose. It can be accessed through their Medicare online account or the Express Plus Medicare app on their mobile.

You'll need a COVID-19 test to head overseas. Picture: Anthony Brady

You'll need a COVID-19 test to head overseas. Picture: Anthony Brady

What about a COVID-19 test?

You'll need one, but the details remain murky.

Passengers will have to have to test negative within 72 hours of departure, using a 'gold standard' PCR test.

Australians can access rapid antigen tests, which are less accurate but produce a result within half an hour, on the same day the borders open. But it's unclear whether they'll be enough for a pre-departure test.

What happens on arrival?

Depends on where you're going.

The Prime Minister confirmed talks with Singapore over a quarantine-free travel bubble are in their final stages, and could be finalised within the next week.

You'll need to take a test within three days of arriving in the UK. Testing positive means ten days in isolation.

MORE COVID-19 NEWS:

The US requires a test 3-5 days after arrival. But a 14-day quarantine is only recommended, not required.

Bali requires arrivals to undergo five days in quarantine. No quarantine is required in Thailand, but you'll need insurance covering COVID-19 treatment.

What are other airlines doing?

Waiting with anticipation.

Qatar Airways is bringing back from Doha to Melbourne and Sydney on December 1. That aligns with Qantas flights to Los Angeles.

A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines has welcomed efforts to set-up a bubble with the city-state. They say the company will be "nimble" responding to any developments.

The airliner is currently running daily services to Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. Three flights a week are running to Adelaide, along with one each week to Sydney. These are mainly for stranded Australians.

It ceased flights to and from Canberra, and movement was not expected before next year.

What are prices looking like?

That varies depending on the day.

But Qantas economy return flights between Sydney and London begin at $1714. They're a bit pricier between Sydney and Los Angeles, beginning at $2009.

This story 'Best news': What you'll face when you head overseas first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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