Qantas A380s Returning To Service Next Year!

Australia kept the virus at bay through much of the pandemic, but is seeing more spread than at any time in the past 18 months. They’re in lockdown, and behind most of the West in vaccinations.

They’ve just extended reduced limits on arrivals into the country until at least October, and their citizens can’t generally leave. And the country’s news looks like something out of a dystopian future.

That’s kept much of Qantas grounded. Their Airbus A380 wasn’t supposed to return until June 2023 “at the earliest.”

Water Cannon Salute To Qantas Airbus A380

So who had Qantas bringing back the Airbus A380 next year on their pandemic aviation bingo card?

  • Based on expected Aussie vaccination progress, Qantas plans to re-start its international network in mid-December.

  • The initial focus will be “COVID-safe destinations,” that they expect to include “Singapore, the United States, Japan, United Kingdom and Canad” and they’ll sell New Zealand bubble flights then as well.

  • Non-stops to London are planned, potentially from Darwin rather than Perth (where they’ve operated in the past) due to West Australia’s state government being insane over Covid.

  • They plan to keep 10 Airbus A380s and retire 2.

  • 5 Airbus A380s will operate in 2022: Sydney – Los Angeles starting July 2022, and Sydney – Singapore – London starting November 2022.

  • They’re working with Airbus to extend the range of Airbus A330-200s to operate transpacific routes like Brisbane – Los Angeles and San Francisco.

  • Hong Kong flights are expected to resume in February 2022, and the rest of their network in April 2022 including “Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg.”.

The biggest risk factor in these plans is the Australian government’s plan to allow vaccinated passengers to enter their country without mandatory state quarantine on arrival.

(HT: @IshrionA)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If the US meets Qantas definition of a “Covid-safe destination,” the carrier should be able to fly just about anywhere. The biggest risk to Qantas plans is not the Australia government, it is the continuing and unpredictable spread of Covid and the potential for new variants..

  2. I see little advantage to London Darwin flights. Maybe it’s good for those with special visa problems or for racists by stopping in Darwin instead of Singapore? Unlike Perth, there probably isn’t much traffic between Darwin and London.

    Until there is a Melbourne or Sydney nonstop flight to London, I see little advantage to non-stops. Stopping in Perth or Adelaide is fine for those markets but isn’t a big improvement for Sydney and Melbourne passengers, who can stop just as well in Singapore. Well, maybe Adelaide-Melbourne is a nice short flight so that is of some value, sleeping London-Adelaide then being awake for the Adelaide-Melbourne segment.

  3. Australia wants 80% vaccination to open their international borders. Experience in most western countries has shown how difficult it is to get to this figure.
    Once a country has implemented a zero-Covid strategy for such a long time, it will be hard to reprogram the majority of their citizens in a short time. Let’s see when the country opens

    Nobody knows what the pandemic situation will look like in summer 2022. It’s premature to celebrate the return of the A380, unfortunately

  4. I don’t know where you are getting your information from as to the Australian Government’s intentions, but you can take it with a grain of salt. It is news to we locals, I can assure you!

  5. Adelaide to London non-stop is unviable due to the total distance. Additionally Qantas has only a faint footprint in Adelaide these days.

  6. You’ll be tested, vaxxed, and masked for that 15+ hour flight and still might find yourself in lockdown should one or two people test positive.
    Mask police at doors, card checkers, covid-awareness oppressive. Sounds like a lot of fun.

  7. Don’t care to visit a country strapped down with liberals. Nefarious gun control laws where criminals pluck their victims like ducks in a pond and a government that suppresses crime rates and news. You can keep it. No matter how long the Aussies stay locked up up it still only takes one to spread a new variation around. They can only print so much money.

  8. @ Joe

    Oops – the federal (national government) isn’t liberal – it’s right wing. You idiot.

    Oops – homicide rates are 5 times less in Australia than the USA (no guns, buddy). You dumbo.

    Oops – mass murder by mass shootings are vitally non existent in Australia (once every ten years or more – to every few days like the USA like, I said, no guns buddy – we don’t live in fear of our community like Americans). You right wing twat.

    Oops – Australia’s dead from COVID is fifty times less than USA (by number of population). You sociopath.

    Oops – most of the states in Australia have eliminated COVID, even the Delta Variant. Not a single case. You ignoramus.

    Oops – our economy is a powerhouse despite COVID, something about 136 billion dollar saffron ore exports and house prices bursting 25% or more in months). Ouch, you dimwit.

    Ignorance is bliss – when you have no recourse to facts, intelligence, or critical thought.

    Please, please, please , never set foot in Australia. Holiday in Florida where there are 170,000 folks in hospital from COVID thanks to their right wing idiot governor.

    Be well. Stay away.

  9. @ Gary

    More stupid reporting from Gary Leff about Australia?!

    QF continually plays this game. What don’t you understand?

    QF needs cash flow. It takes the money – and delays returning the refunds.

    It pre-empts any government decisions on border control – arguably tries to influence it (something about favours to policians and Chairmans lounge benefits).

    It miraculously receives government (tax payer) benefits other businesses don’t.

    Gary – your ignorance on matters Australian is embarrassing. Basically you are an ignorant twit.

  10. @platy
    People in glass houses…
    – there are about 100,000 people hospitalized with Covid in the USA (peak was 120,000 in January). As Florida is part of the USA, please explain how you come up with the 170,000 figure in the State. Or maybe this is what media in Australia is feeding you.

    – Australia has had lower Covid deaths than many other countries- correct. At the same tome, mortality in early 2020 and since November 2020 has been about 5% higher than the expected and average figure. When you are dead does it matter whether you are a Covid death or not?

    – Australia just reported more than 1000 daily infections. You claim that most States have eliminated Covid. Do you realize that a zero-Covid strategy requires a permanent closure to the outside world or a revolving door of closing and opening society. Enjoy the next 50 years

    – the economy in the USA is also doing well, housing prices are up too..

    – infections per million in Australia during the last week were higher than Chile, Hungary, Czech or New Zealand. Would you move to these countries because of it? It’s not a competition

    – even if you wanted to move to Hungary or Czech you could not as the Australian government doesn’t allow you to leave. My aunt in the Soviet Union could visit us in Austria in the 1980s with less hassle than an Australian trying to go to the UK in 2021.

    If Australia wants to be isolated from the world for decades, that is up for the residents to decide. The rest of the world will move on as we realize that covid will be endemic like a flu or other diseases. Stamping out the virus (the NZ strategy) is not possible.

    Maybe Americans don’t know a lot about Australia, but you also don’t seem to know much about the USA. The tone of your post and how you refer to others speak for itself (and is not representative of the Australians I know personally)

  11. What’s dystopian saving the lives of 46,000 Australians by having a death rate 50 times lower than the USA?

    This blog is completely dystopian — kill 46,000 Australians so the 1% (or 10% or whatever) can travel.

  12. @ miamiflyer
    It’s extraordinary to me that Gary Leff continues to write about Australia in articles, which are repeatedly unrepresentative and factually incorrect. This is the second one in a few days. I have on numerous occasions attempted to balance his error with fact and point people to the references, such as the Doherty Report and unofficial counter reports on health policy for opening up the country balanced against restrictions and predicted infection / hospitalisation /ICU and mortality rates.
    Gary’s articles incur a commentary, which is variously pig ignorant, racist, derogatory and just plain toxic.
    I do not witness this level of troll baiting, nor determination to allow anybody to say anything they like no matter how nasty, on other frequent traveller website bogs.
    I have had one person, for example, make incredibly insulting and demeaning remarks about my wife, who was born in a certain South American country.
    Even in this one thread there are the usual stupid remarks about penal colonies. There are remarks about Australians being so racist they would rather stop in Darwin than Singapore, etc.
    I don’t see you, or others, directly challenge the “tone” of other posters.
    You tell whether the main reason you responded to my comments directed for @ Joe is some sort of intention to represent the US is a manner you felt was more balanced? If so, that is exactly what I have been attempting to do many times over – somebody makes stupid remarks about penal colonies, I remind them that the US was itself a British penal colony – somebody else makes some ignorant comment about gun control I point out that there is stark difference in homicide rates and virtually no mass shootings in Australia – somebody thinks that we’re all living in lockdown I point out that didn’t apply for most of the country for most of the pandemic – somebody is certain we should be storming our parliament in protest over “freedoms” and I cite the election results for three states showing overwhelming support for the handling of COVID (with the exception of the federal government’s handling of the procurement and roll out of the vaccination program which impacted their popularity in the polls).
    There are other ill informed remarks about Australia being “permanently in lockdown”, even though a few seconds of research would show the debate is when and how to open up in the context of accelerating vaccination rates.

    A week or two ago Gary headlined another article claiming Australia was planning to be cut off from the world for another 5 years. I posted a lengthy factual rebuttal.
    Gary didn’t even acknowledge.
    Gary is more than happy to stoke the fake perceptions.
    I don’t read, for example, the same stuff from Gary and some of his ignorant trolls being levelled at countries, such as the UK, where restrictions were deployed for long periods of time.
    Yes the Florida stats may have been misreported, but you can’t deny that the state is currently struggling and has experienced reportedly over 3 million cases and about 43,000 deaths? The current 7-day average is over 20,000 new daily cases.
    My comparison on COVID was between Australia and the USA – that was because most of the ill informed posters herein appeared to be American and entrenched in an opinion that their “freedoms” justified 635,000 dead. Most Australians appear to have a very different attitude based on their support for the measures taken by our state governments to control the virus. Some 50,000 (taking the US mortality and dividing by 13 to adjust for population size) deaths would not be acceptable in Australia.
    In contrast to your remark, “When you are dead does it matter whether you are a Covid death or not?”, here we do care whether somebody dies of COVID. We are concerned about their illness and suffering, we consider those who might experience long-term health issues.
    Why do you (and others) insist on the claim that Australia intends to remain cut off from the world (in your words for 50 years)?
    A few seconds of online research would show you that the country has (belatedly) accelerated its vaccination rates (after a number of appalling incompetent misfires by the federal government), and that the federal and state governments are seeking to determine how to balance vaccination targets with containment measures. The accruing data from other countries (such as the resurgence of COVID in Texas and Florida, and the experience of the UK in opening up) will be very informative in achieving this.
    Until those vaccination rates have reached certain targets, you can expect to see the various state governments continue to seek to control COVID infection rates. Currently, that means no lockdowns or restrictions whatsoever in most of our states, since they are on top of the situation with zero or close to zero COVID. Expect that as vaccination rates reach certain targets (nominally at least 70% of the over 16 year old population). That said, if more virulent strains emerge, policy could change – note that published medical data on the South African variant indicate one of vaccine mainstays in Australia, Astra Zeneca, is reportedly only 10% effective at reducing infection rates.

    The point about the economy is that it has survived better than most might have expected or hoped for, despite the various measures undertaken to control COVID.
    No, it isn’t a “competition”. But it would be preferable to see some more balanced and factual articles and posts.
    The government’s rules around the borders are another subject of general confusion. Please go and read the government website – I have repeatedly challenged specific posts on this issue. People can leave the country, one category is normally resident overseas, which currently doesn’t even need an exemption if you have your overseas documents to show Border Control when leaving.
    Australia is not alone in controlling its borders. For example, the US apparently continues to restrict travel by Europeans, even those vaccinated. For some reason, it’s always Australia that gets slammed for strict border controls without the context.
    I don’t think that anyone in Australia wants or expects their borders to be closed longer than is necessary to control COVID to manageable levels. At current vaccination rates, we could see things start to move forwards about the end of the year. That is why Alan Joyce is pitching for a restart to international travel in December. The government modelling by the Doherty Institute maps a path forward claiming that mortality can be contained a very low levels (a few thousand, rather than 10,000s).
    I suspect that my knowledge of the US is fine, thanks. I have worked for the University of Miami (RSMAS on Key Biscayne), my father lived in New York for some years (and I used to vacation there often), I have visited the country more times than I can remember, I had a PhD supervisor who I used to visit in Boston (Harvard Med), and I have family in Los Angeles. I have followed the US politics several times a week over the last few years fascinated by the insanity of a certain ex-president and to see what could be learned from the US handling of COVID. That said, I don’t assume to be an expert.
    Be well.

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