The CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce, has said flights to international destinations will not resume until a vaccine has become available and that flights to Europe and the US, where the virus is currently raging largely uncontrolled, are unlikely until at least the end of 2021.
However, there is still hope for some overseas travel in the not too distant future, with Joyce suggesting that the Australian government broker travel bubbles with other nations, similar to the one currently in place, albeit one way at present, with New Zealand. These travel bubbles could be established with countries that have managed to contain the virus, such as Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. “We haven’t flown to Korea or Taiwan in decades, but we’d put services back into the destinations if we could,” Joyce said.
With regard to interstate travel, Joyce suggested that a national policy was required to establish acceptable levels of viral spread before a border is required to close, rather than individual states making such decisions with autonomy. “We need a standard approach across the countries about what are the levels when a border does open and when they do close, instead of having these ad hoc rules cross the country where everyone’s taking a different approach,” he said, adding that Australians would need to learn to live with the virus and trust that contact tracing and other suppression measures are working.
Qantas has had much of its long-haul fleet grounded since international borders were sealed earlier this year. However, the airline will be ramping up interstate services as restrictions ease in the coming weeks. From November 23, for example, Qantas will be operating at least 15 daily flights between Sydney and Melbourne, with the aim of reaching as much as 60 per cent of its Beforetime domestic capacity by Christmas.