Australians find themselves in a unique position right now, at least when it comes to travel. Australia is one of the few countries with many places to go, including Europe, only no one is really allowed to leave without exemption. And there’s also the $3,000 brutal 14 day government quarantine on return.
As the December holidays fast approach, dreams of reconnecting within the country, or with loved ones elsewhere return to the mind, and to put it bluntly, news today for the near future of travel in Australia is a mixed bag.
Qantas Slashes US, UK Flights Through October 2021
No one likes to wait for bad news, so we’ll start with it. Executive Traveller exclusively confirmed that Qantas has slashed all flights between Australia, the UK and USA thru October, 2021. Qantas appears to have an inside track on government movements, and the news falls in line with recent statements from the Australian Government.
Even if you wanted to book a speculative Qantas flight before October 2021 to any of these destinations, you can’t. The airline removed all flights Australia and the USA and UK from sale up to that date.
Speaking to Executive Traveller, Qantas offered…
“We’ve temporarily stopped selling on some of our other international routes like the UK and US until the end of October 2021, given the uncertainty in those markets and ongoing government restrictions,”Qantas
The unfortunate gist is that until a vaccine is widely in distribution, Australia won’t likely be extending external border openings to arrivals from the USA or Europe, where viral concerns continue to rage. This week, France, Germany, UK, Greece, Belgium and others went into lockdown of some form.
The newly expected date for travel to resume with these vital regions is no longer a hopeful March 2021, but a painful October 2021 at the earliest. Yep, it may be a year before an American passport holder or European passport holder sets foot in Oz.
Australia Travel Bubbles
Just weeks ago, Singapore added Australia to a list of approved destinations from which visitors may enter for leisure. The only catch: Australians can’t really go, due to the Australian restrictions on international travel.
A variety of countries in Asia and Pacific, including Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are also tipped to soon allow Australia visitors, based on extremely low recent covid-19 figures, and hopes for international travel bubbles remain strong, perhaps by the end of 2020, or early 2021 – but only regionally.
Australia and New Zealand opened the first preliminary international travel bubble on October 16th. But even that isn’t perfect. Abundant caution means all arrivals into New Zealand still must quarantine, though arrivals from New Zealand into Australia do not. It’s effectively a one way bubble.
After months of strict domestic state lockdowns and travel restrictions, Australia’s new hope for travel in 2020 is to remove all internal border restrictions, allowing for free flowing domestic movement once again from state to state, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Australia’s Mixed Bag For Travel
The good news: Australia is handling covid-19 extremely well, and domestic life is returning more to normal than it has in months, and more than most places elsewhere in the world. The bad news: this adds jeopardy to allowing any potential international visitors from countries with higher rates of infection.
If and when Australia adds travel bubbles this year, or early into the next, they’ll be within Asia and Pacific, and absolutely not with Europe, South America, Africa, or the United States. It may be quite a while – basically a year from now – until visitors from other parts of the world are able to enter Australia.
For Aussies with family, friends and business abroad, the world isn’t quite as small and reachable as it was just last year. For the friends, family and business travelers on the outside, it’ll be a while looking in.