Qantas Airways Ltd has announced it is officially targeting countries with high vaccination rates to resume international travel before the year ends.
In the first place, the company seeks to restart travel with the U.S., the U.K, and Singapore as early as December in consideration of their high vaccination rates.
In other countries, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, where vaccination has not picked up as expected, the resumption of travel would occur around April 2022 at the earliest.
Qantas Chief Executive, Alan Joyce, acknowledges that quarantine requirements for those coming to Australia remain in the dark.
“If it’s 14 days in a hotel, demand levels will be very low. A shorter period with additional testing and the option to isolate at home will see a lot more people travel.”
The resumption of air travel offers some relief for the Asia-Pacific region where aircraft have been grounded for most of the pandemic.
Most of the island countries surrounding Australia heavily rely on Australian airports. Data shows that they have received less than 5% of the air traffic they used to have before the pandemic struck.
Of course, Qantas depends on the government vaccination progress to get ahead with its plans.
Primer Minister Scott Morrison set a target of 70% to 80% vaccination rate to phase out lockdowns and start easing restrictions.
On Monday, the Doherty’s Institute’s Prof Jodie McVernon advised the government about the potential negative consequences of reopening the country with only 70% and 80% benchmarks.
However, Morrison has belittled the research report calling it “not realistic” because the country is committed to ensure other public health measures to contain the virus.
Back in July, Australia unveiled a four-phase plan to reopen the country. In phase 4 (final), it is expected that “life will return to almost normal” with travelers doing pre- and post-flight testing.
This is the very first time the government prioritizes economy over medical advice. The move may mean it’s quite possible that this time Qantas’ CEO can actually resume international flights in December.