As the main way in and out of the country, it’s fair to say Qantas is quite important to Australia, and likely in good touch with its leaders.
In the latest plot twist of a never ending odyssey, Qantas says it expects Australia to embark upon a total u-turn, and open international borders from December 2021.
Qantas has put its money where its mouth is too, scaling up early preparations and readying planes to serve a variety of routes from that date, accordingly. If this is true, it’s a wild departure from recent plans which even included keeping some quarantine facilities open through 2025!
Australia Travel Reopening Recap
Ok, let’s quickly recap the Iliad like odyssey of Australia’s border during covid-19 and how we got to the bizarre, but wildly exciting potential news piece from Qantas about Australia potentially opening in 2021, instead of 2121.
- Australians can’t leave Australia without a permitted exemption.
- Many citizens can’t return to Australia, due to limited flights and costs.
- Many airlines stopped flying to Australia, due to passenger limits.
- In July, Australia said it wouldn’t even consider opening until 2022.
- For 2022, a 7 day home quarantine for citizens was only expected change.
- In 2022, or 2023, Australia planned to open some travel bubbles, maybe.
- Australia recently hired for some quarantine facilities thru 2025.
Many frustrated citizens and travelers have dubbed Australia “prison island” for the complete and total international travel lockdown, which still hasn’t managed to avoid half the country remaining in total lockdown.
That was easier to swallow when Europe and the USA was in the thick of it, but now, many countries with relatively open borders are enjoying freedoms of old, without lockdowns. Families are reconnecting, business is being conducted and tourism is pumping vital lifelines into global economies.
Critics have suggested Australia’s bizarre border twists were due to Australia’s “zero covid” strategy, which Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently abandoned amidst mounting pressure.
The country is now witnessing the success of vaccination drives elsewhere, and even once cautious regional partners, such as Singapore, are now expediting plans to open with haste. Australia’s catching on.
Singapore has committed to quarantine free travel bubbles, and won’t actively worry about cases during reopening, instead focusing on the overall health picture of both hospitalization and death, which is in line with the current treatment of other endemic illnesses.
Australia’s Purported New Strategy
According to a company release, Qantas believes that international borders will open in some form, from December 2021. This is based on Australia hitting 80% vaccination by this point, and no shock twists to the overall global health status in the meantime.
Qantas believes initial bubbles will include countries with strong data sharing and trust, including Canada, Fiji, Japan, Singapore, UK, the US and others. Qantas plans to focus on Asia, the USA and UK as travel reopens.
“The prospect of flying overseas might feel a long way off, especially in New South Wales and Victoria in Lockdown, but the current pace of the vaccine rollout means we should have a lot more freedom in a few months’ time,”Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas
Will it happen? Who knows. Qantas hoped to restart flights in October, but extreme caution from the Morrison government scuppered plans, and in fact sent the country into even tighter international lockdowns.
It’s clear, however, that pressure is beginning to mount on government, as business leaders outline the worst case scenarios of a country without travel and trade amid fresh data showing just how effective vaccines are in preventing worst outcomes.
Maybe that Australia trip isn’t a total write off, yet.