Other than New Zealand, it’s hard to think of a more sought after travel destination that’s been more off limits during the pandemic than Australia. The country closed its borders to all non residents or nationals, and requires all returning travelers to spend 14 days in a state enforced quarantine, at their own (massive) expense.
The complete shutdown, and subsequent messages that the country is unlikely to reopen until vaccines are widely in distribution, prompted Qantas and other airlines to remove most international flights from their schedules, all the way into late 2021.
It was a huge buzzkill for international visitors missing a flat white in Melbourne, a rocks walk in Sydney, some nature in Perth, or wine in Adelaide, affectionately known locally as “Radelaide”. But… it seems fortunes may be changing, for the better.
Australia Opening From July 1st, 2021?
According to Executive Traveller, and confirmed by GSTP, Qantas has reinstated international flights, set to recommence on July 1st, rather than the fourth quarter of 2021 as planned – or later, as feared.
All of Qantas’ moves thus far during the pandemic seemed guided by forthcoming revelations from the Australian Government – Qantas would make a move and days later the Government would announce a new travel policy – and this is an encouraging sign that a tentative date is set.
Health ministers in Australia have been quoted stating that full vaccinations in Australia should be complete by October, and that rollout has been ahead of schedule thus far. A soft opening in July ahead of a widespread October international travel reopening is certainly possible.
In response to the story, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister stated no hard date is in place, but didn’t deny the possibility, or say that the Qantas timetable was wrong…
International borders will be opened when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians. Decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian Government.Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister, Australia
Effectively, it seems Qantas is operating with information about vaccination and pre-flight testing rollout from Australian authorities, and has accelerated time tables to appropriately reintroduce flights from London, the USA and beyond, sooner than expected.
Indeed, confirmed using Google Flights, Qantas flights from key international gateways are already once again bookable, from July 1st, 2021 onward. More are expected to go on sale shortly.
Australia planned to reopen international flights with regional neighbors like Singapore in March, but has now pushed those plans back to July 1st as well. It’s appearing more and more likely that Australia will announce formal plans to welcome back virtually all international visitors from the July 1st date, or travelers with proof of vaccination for covid-19, at the very least.
Alan Joyce, CEO Of Qantas, famously stated that Qantas will require vaccination proof from all international travelers, and implied ‘anti-vaxxers’ can find another airline.
Time To Plan Australia Trips?
2021 is going to be the most bi-polar year in recent memory, at least when it comes to travel. The pandemic situation is worse than ever at the moment, including a recently announced UK lockdown, but the widespread rollout of vaccines should make second half of 2021 the closest to ‘normal’ it’s been in over 12 months.
Planning to hop on a July 1st, 2021 flight to Australia may be ambitious, but all signs indicate it may hold true, at least for those with vaccination proof.
If not, October and beyond seems rather safe. As a Southern Hemisphere destination, autumn and winter for those in Europe or the USA is the beginning of spring and summer in Australia, and is always a favored time to head down under.
It just might finally be time to start considering ringing in the next New Year in style, in Sydney Harbour. Don’t miss GSTP’s 48 hour guides to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, if you’re making the trip. Few trips in life are more meaningful and enjoyable than any to Australia. If New Zealand offers similarly exciting news, 2021 will be off to quite an exciting start.