If you were holding out hope that flights overseas may trickle back by Christmas given some Australian border have started to reopen – think again.
In another sign that holidays overseas will be off the cards until well into 2021, Qantas have officially removed international flight bookings – bar New Zealand – from their website until March 28, 2021.
Pulling of all international inventory comes weeks after Group CEO Alan Joyce announced that services overseas wouldn’t likely resume for another 12 months.
According to Executive Traveller, while flights overseas to the US, Asia and Europe can still be made through the Qantas website, the flights will be serviced with partner airlines such as Emirates and Cathay Pacific.
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The closing of flights and changing of bookings isn’t unexpected, given Mr Joyce signalled that all international flying would be suspended until the middle of 2021.
Last month, the national carrier announced it was grounding 100 aircraft in the US’s Mojave Desert, had axed at least 20 per cent of its workforce and parked some of the airline’s fleet of A380s (used for flagship international routes) for “at least three years”.
Mr Joyce said that while a trans-Tasman route may be operational before mid-2021, other popular routes around the world won’t restart “in any real size (until) July next year”.
“We have to be realistic about it and say with what’s happening in the rest of the globe, it is probably an extended period of time,” Mr Joyce said, adding it would be “years before international flying returns to what it was” for the airline.
Following the announcement last month, a Qantas spokesperson told news.com.au the much-hyped New Zealand travel bubble was expected in the coming months however, the surge in cases Victoria was currently experiencing could impact the start date.
“We’re planning to be back to 40 per cent of our pre-crisis domestic flying during July and hopefully more in the months that follow. But we’ll be living with COVID for some time and recent events show we can’t take a low infection rate for granted,” Mr Joyce said.
“(For) international, we have to be realistic about it and in staying with what’s happening in the rest of the globe, it is probably an extended period of time before we’ll open up those borders.
“We’re parking the A380 for at least three years because they don’t have any use, we think, during this period of time.”