Qantas has stopped selling most international flights until March 2021

Jul 10, 2020

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Australian airline Qantas has indicated it plans to operate almost no international services for the next nine months, halting new bookings until March 28, 2021.

In June, Qantas cancelled its international network until October 2020, though as first reported by Executive Traveller, the airline has now taken the preemptive step of stopping new bookings for most international services on its website well into 2021. For now, the flights themselves have not been cancelled, though no new bookings are being taken for these services, indicating they are unlikely to actually operate. If Qantas does cancel these services as expected, any passengers booked on these flights can seek either a full refund or a travel voucher valid until Dec. 21, 2022.

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The Flying Kangaroo has already retired its Boeing 747 fleet and expects its entire Airbus A380 fleet will not fly again for at least three years.

The Australian Government has maintained a global “Do Not Travel” COVID-19-related warning to Australians for several month, and has no plans to lift this anytime soon. This, combined with the banning of foreign tourists entering the country, means there is virtually no demand for Qantas to operate its substantial international network, other than limited cargo services and flying some Australians who have still not returned home.

While airlines worldwide have drastically reduced their schedules, particularly for long-haul operations amid severely decreased demand, many expect to resume some long-haul routes before the end of this year. Qantas codeshare partner Emirates already is selling tickets to an increasing number of destinations over the coming months.

Related: Good news for the first-class shower: Emirates plans to bring back all A380s by 2022

Before COVID-19, Qantas had operated a double-daily service from London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). Those included an Airbus A380 service to Sydney (SYD) via Singapore (SIN) and a nonstop marathon to Perth (PER) using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner — one of the world’s longest flights.

Australia has taken a strict approach to combating the COVID-19 pandemic, banning foreign tourists from entering the country and placing Australians returning home from overseas in mandatory highly controlled hotel quarantines. This has helped the country contain the virus quickly, and with the exception of a recent flare-up in Melbourne, restrictions have largely been eased with life returning to some normality, other than international tourism. There remains demand for domestic travel within Australia, as evidenced by the level of interest in purchasing Qantas’ domestic rival Virgin Australia.

There is still some hope Australians may be able to travel to New Zealand in late 2020, as both governments currently negotiate a “travel bubble” exemption arrangement. New Zealand has also successfully contained the COVID-19 threat through closed borders, strict quarantine and an early and consistent lockdown policy. Qantas is, for now, allowing new bookings on international flights to New Zealand only.

Featured image by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

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