International travel australia
When will international travel Australia resume? The latest news sparks optimism, with Qantas hoping to resume flights in mid-December, while NSW is working towards reopening its borders. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

When will international travel Australia resume? Qantas had previously announced that it could restart flights to several countries starting from mid-December. No date for the reopening of borders has been set by the federal government, but recent updates suggest things are looking up for international travel Australia. Here’s what we know: 

International travel Australia: Qantas’ plans

Qantas is preparing for a gradual restart of international flights from mid-December 2021, with plans linked to the vaccination rollout in Australia and key international markets. “On current projections, Australia is expected to reach [the] National Cabinet’s 80% vaccination threshold in December 2021, which would trigger the gradual reopening of international borders,” it said on its website. 

“While COVID-19 has shown that circumstances can change unexpectedly, the long lead times to restart our international operation mean we need to prepare well in advance. If assumptions change or dates move, our restart plans will be adjusted accordingly and we’ll keep you updated.”

Qantas is expecting to resume flights from Australia to COVID-safe destinations, which are likely to be classed as low-risk countries for vaccinated travellers to visit and return with reduced quarantine requirements, pending decisions by the Australian government and entry policies of other countries. 

This could include countries like Singapore, the US, Japan, the UK, Canada and Fiji. Flights between Australia and New Zealand are on sale for travel from mid-December 2021, assuming some or all borders between the two countries will reopen, while the rest of the Qantas international network is planned to open up from April 2022.

Previously, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline would introduce a policy that would require proof of vaccination before flying. He also said borders should open once 80% of the population is vaccinated.

“We’ll probably try a lot of new routes internationally, and as certain borders will open up and others won’t,” he said. He didn’t indicate which routes these might be but said Australians needed to be able to start travelling again by Christmas.

international travel australia

Qantas and NSW have plans for international travel, but that would also depend on the federal government’s decision.

International travel Australia: Airports are getting ready

Major Australian airports are gearing up to facilitate the return of overseas travel. The Australian government is investing 64 million Australian dollars in international security screening requirements, reported International Airport Review.

Australian Airports Association (AAA) Chief Executive James Goodwin was quoted saying that the International Airport Security Charges Rebate programme will enable airports to support the government’s reopening strategy.

Separately, Australia’s international borders may be closer to reopening with digital vaccination passports — called the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) — which could be used for contact tracing and other health reasons.

NSW gears up for guests

Sydney is piloting a home quarantine plan for vaccinated travellers, signalling a closer step towards international borders reopening. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said New South Wales and Commonwealth governments will launch a home quarantine pilot in Greater Sydney next month as the state transitions towards opening up international borders.

It will trial a seven-day home quarantine programme for around 175 people.

“NSW looks forward to reopening and to accepting a greater number of international arrivals. Now is the ideal time to pilot a home quarantine solution as we transition towards opening up,” said Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres.