Qantas is set to re-start its global network in mid-December as Australia closes in on the nation’s vaccination threshold target of 80 per cent.
Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, said the current date of December 2021 remains in reach, based on pace of vaccine rollout, and destinations with high vaccination rates are the initial focus, including Fiji, Singapore, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada.
“The prospect of flying overseas might feel a long way off, especially with 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,” he said.
“It’s obviously up to government exactly how and when our international borders re-open, but with Australia on track to meet the 80 per cent trigger agreed by National Cabinet by the end of the year, we need to plan ahead for what is a complex restart process.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen, including training for our people and carefully bringing aircraft back into service. We’re also working to integrate the IATA travel pass into our systems to help our customers prove their vaccine status and cross borders.
“We can adjust our plans if the circumstances change, which we’ve already had to do several times during this pandemic. Some people might say we’re being too optimistic, but based on the pace of the vaccine rollout, this is within reach and we want to make sure we’re ready,” Joyce said.
Qantas plans to deploy Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s on the medium- and long-haul routes, and Boeing 737s and A320s for services to Fiji.
Joyce also revealed the carrier will return five Airbus A380s to service ahead of schedule and these would fly between Sydney and LA from July 2022, and between Sydney and London (via Singapore) from November 2022, while five more would be returned “when there’s sufficient demand, and the high vaccination rates in both markets would underpin this”.
One nation eagerly awaiting the arrival of Australians is the popular South Pacific nation of Fiji, which has been edging closer to re-opening its famous resorts thanks to high vaccination rates across the nation.
Speaking exclusively to HM, Tourism Fiji CEO, Brent Hill, said the return of Qantas was ideal timing for the nation.
“We are seeing incredible progress on Fiji’s vaccination rates with 94% of the eligible population receiving a single dose and nearly 43% fully vaccinated (as of 26th August),” he said.
“This successful roll out allows us to pro-actively plan re-opening Fiji towards the end of the year.
“With Australia being Fiji’s largest single market, it’s very exciting to see airlines like Qantas announcing plans for vaccinated travellers to return to our shores.
“Tourism Fiji is actively working with all its industry partners for visitors to come back and be immersed in the Bula spirit that we are known for,” Hill told HM.
A large number of tourism businesses across the nation now have 100% of their staff inoculated – including Tourism Fiji, Fiji Airways, Outrigger resorts, Royal Davui, Laucala, Volivoli, Turtle Island Resort, Yasawa Island Resort, Vomo Island and Rosie Holidays – and are ready to welcome international travellers.
That milestone recently prompted the Fijian Government’s ‘Care Fiji Commitment’ to launch a new module to incorporate education and recognition for vaccinations.
Key elements include a new ‘100% Vaccinated’ stamp for approved operators whose entire teams are fully vaccinated, alongside ensuring those operators are up to date with all COVID-19 health and hygiene practices.