Qantas has reopened bookings for international flights from July, in one of the most promising signs yet for a return of overseas travel this year.
The airline is now taking bookings for flights across its entire international network from July 1, 2021, which is earlier than expected for some destinations.
This includes flights to the US and the UK, which had been expected to be grounded until October 21 at least.
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New York will be a notable omission, along with Chicago, for the time being, Executive Traveller reports.
It is expected flights to Asian destinations, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, will also resume on July 1.
New Zealand is the only overseas destination currently serviced by the national carrier.
While Qantas is preparing to resume international flights this year, the Federal Government is yet to reveal when Australia’s overseas travel ban will be lifted.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has previously warned the return of flights to destinations such as the US and UK, which are still struggling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, would be unlikely until a vaccine was developed.
“For some of our big destination like the United States and the UK, it’s going to need a vaccine given the high prevalence of the virus in both of those locations,” Mr Joyce said at the company’s annual general meeting in October.
“But we are getting more and more confident about the opportunities and the potential for a vaccine in helping getting those operations up potentially by the end of 2021.”
Mr Joyce has also said proof of virus vaccination would be mandatory for all international travellers on Qantas flights in the future.
“For international travellers, we will ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft,’’ he said in November.
“Certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity.
“I think that’s going to be a common thing talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe,’’ he added.
Qantas grounded its entire international network, mothballed planes and stood down tens of thousands of international crew members in March as the virus crisis swept the globe.