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‘Mad scramble’ for students to secure flights to Australia: expert

Flights to Australia
Since Australia announced that it would be relaxing its borders on Monday, some airlines have announced updates about flights to Australia. Source: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP

International students can now start booking flights to Australia following the country’s surprise announcement that it would be reopening its borders to them from December. More than 200,000 international students can soon return to Australia without an exemption, ending a long wait since the country shut its borders to them last March. Here’s a round-up of updates on flights to Australia:

Flights to Australia: Qantas

Several airlines have been making announcements about flights to Australia since the country announced that it would be relaxing its borders. Qantas announced that it will launch a new international route from Melbourne to Delhi from December 22, connecting Victoria to the Indian capital on a Qantas-operated flight for the first time in the airline’s history.

“The new Melbourne-Delhi flight will operate four times a week, year-round. Same-day connections will also be available from Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra. Flights from Melbourne to Delhi will initially operate via Adelaide, while flights from Delhi to Melbourne will operate nonstop,” said the company in a statement. 

“This follows the recent announcement of flights from Sydney to Delhi, which start next month. When this route went on sale, Qantas saw the fastest booking surge for flights leaving Australia since the airline announced its international restart plans in August.

Flights to Australia

The country’s relaxed border restrictions have been welcome news for many international students who have been waiting for nearly two years to return to Australia. Source: David Gray/AFP

Emirates updates 

According to Simple Flying, Emirates Australasian Divisional vice-president Barry Brown warned that it may take another two years for the Dubai-based airline to restore its Australian flights to pre-pandemic levels, citing the reluctance of some Australian states to fully reopen for curbing the airline’s ability to restore flights.

Citing a report in The Australian newspaper, unless things improve soon, it will be 2023 before Emirates gets back to flying into Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane three times a day. 

Travellers to Australia must comply with the quarantine requirements in the state or territory of their arrival, and any other state or territory to which they plan to travel.

Fully vaccinated Australians are free to fly into Sydney or Melbourne. Emirates is putting its Airbus A380 back onto a daily flight to Sydney from December 2 while Melbourne will host a daily Emirates Boeing 777-330ER from the same date. Emirates reportedly has no plans to increase flights to either Brisbane or Perth. The airline is maintaining flights to both cities a few times each week.

“Queensland and Western Australia are going to keep us quite a way behind,” Brown told the newspaper.

A scramble for flights to Australia?

Speaking to Times Higher Education, International Education Association of Australia chief executive Phil Honeywood said the announcement was “great news” for 150,000 student visa holders who had been waiting in their home countries. 

“However, key challenges still remain, including some states still having separate quarantine requirements, and the mad scramble that’s now going to ensue for seats on planes after December 1,” Honeywood was quoted saying.

“In all of this, we must ensure that Sydney and Melbourne airports are able to manually process enough vaccination certificates until a long-awaited electronic verification system comes into place.”