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Qantas has said that following the announcement from New South Wales than it plans to open up to vaccinated visitors from 1 November and that vaccinated visitors will no longer need to quarantine, it will bring forward the relaunch of a couple of its key routes. Specifically, the Sydney – Los Angeles and the Sydney – London routes are two that will be coming back sooner than planned.
Australia has been one of the harder countries to get into since the coronavirus first took a grip on the world and in recent months, the country has seen some of its toughest lockdowns. New South Wales, however, now has a vaccination rate of over 80% and that appears to have pushed the state’s leaders to announce that fully vaccinated visitors will be welcomed without the need for quarantine from 1 November.
The Australian government’s rules remain a sticking point – Australia doesn’t appear to be ready to reopen its borders to visitors from outside – but that hasn’t stopped Qantas from bringing forward its plans to restart services to Los Angeles and London from its Sydney base.
Sydney – Los Angeles Returns
Qantas’ original tentative plan was to try to restart the Sydney – Los Angeles route from mid-November but the airline has moved quickly to update its schedules to bring forward the route’s relaunch date to 1 November.
ExpertFlyer is already showing a Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner operating between Sydney and Los Angeles from 1 November on the following schedule:
QF11 SYD 22:25 – 18:00 LAX
QF12 LAX 21:30 – 06:20+2 days SYD
When the route first comes back, it looks like Qantas will operate four weekly flights but that settles down to a 3x/week service from 19 November with the route operating on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
The current schedule also shows the route going daily from 17 December but that seems ambitious and may just be an indicator that Qantas has yet fully updated its schedule.
Unsurprisingly (considering the Australian government’s continuing stance on visitors from abroad), Qantas has confirmed that the initial flights will be “limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families and parents in line with Australian Government requirements” so we don’t yet know when the rest of the world will be welcomed back on the flying kangaroo.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has had this to say about the latest news:
Bringing forward the reopening of Australia to the world and removing quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers entering New South Wales is a massive step towards life as we knew it.
In just a little over two weeks, Australians around the world can fly into Sydney and people from around Australia can leave on trips they’ve been waiting almost two years to take. We hope other states will do the same once they reach the 80 per cent target.
We have thousands of our pilots and cabin crew wanting to get back to work and they will be thrilled at today’s announcement. It will still be a long time before international travel returns to normal but this is a fantastic start.
Removing quarantine for the fully vaccinated is a sensible approach and brings New South Wales into line with many other global cities.
I want to thank the Prime Minister and Premier Perrottet for the leadership they have shown in getting borders reopened again, which is only possible because so many Australians have rolled up their sleeves in record time.
Now that Qantas has brought forward the relaunch of the Sydney – Los Angeles route, the airline has said that “[p]assengers who have already booked to travel to and from Los Angeles or London and want to travel earlier can make a fee-free date change to their flight on the ‘manage my booking’ section of qantas.com”. Unfortunately the change is unlikely to be completely free because the airline has also said that “a fare difference may apply”.
As an aside, it will be interesting to see if the restart of the Sydney – Los Angeles route will see the Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX reopen – I know quite a few oneworld flyers who would love to see that happen asap.
Rules for International Travelers Visiting New South Wales
- All passengers on Qantas international flights (aged 12 years and older) will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine (unless they have an exemption).
- As part of government requirements, customers on these flights will also be required to return a negative COVID test from an approved PCR testing site 72 hours prior to departure.
- The NSW Government will advise on what additional testing requirements will be required on arrival in the coming days.
For further information on what customers should expect on these initial flights please see the Qantas infographic linked here.
Qantas has announced that it will relaunch its Sydney – Los Angeles route on 1 November following the announcement from the government of New South Wales that vaccinated visitors will be welcomed from the beginning of November and will not be required to quarantine.