Qantas has announced that both international and domestic borders are on track to open by December 2021 as Australia continues to hit record vaccination targets. Finally, a glimmer of hope! But there is a catch, as there is with everything Covid-19 related.
According to predictions developed by the airline, Australia is on the path to reach the required 80 per cent vaccination for herd immunity in its adult population by December. This figure will allow both state and international border restrictions to ease.
However, and this is where the catch is; Qantas emphasized the ‘gradual’ reopening of the international borders. This means that the focus first will be establishing a ‘travel bubble’ of low-risk countries. These countries include those with high vaccination uptake, including the UK, US, and parts of Asia.
The federal government has reaffirmed its commitment to the Australian people by lifting restrictions on outbound travel once Australia reaches 80 percent of vaccinations.
Under Phase C of the roadmap, restrictions on all outbound travel for inoculated Australians will lift.
It is believed the 80 percent vaccination rate is likely to be reached by the end of the year.
However, it must be noted that this decision by Qantas depends ” largely on government decisions on alternative requirements to mandatory hotel isolation for fully vaccinated travelers”.
From mid-December, Qantas and Jetstar will reinstate international schedules between Australia and low-risk countries. These include Singapore, the US, Japan, the UK, Canada, and Fiji.
There is no mention of any travel bubbles with Europe, so no guarantees for those anxiously awaiting a Greek vacation.
Australia’s international borders have been firmly shut since March 2020.
This announcement by the carrier comes just as Qantas posted a pre-tax annual loss of $1.83bn.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce blamed “diabolical” border conditions for this terrible result, remarking that the “financial status indicated a full year of closed international borders and more than 330 days of domestic travel restrictions.”
Mr. Joyce maintains that Covid has cost the airline $16bn in revenue so far, and he believes that figure will grow to $20bn by the end of 2021.
Additionally, Qantas seems to be growing frustrated with the state governments’ hard domestic border closures.
Qantas also recently mandated the vaccine for all staff. Frontline employees are expected to be fully vaccinated by mid-November and all other employees by the end of March next year.