Australian flag carrier Qantas have said they will be forced to push back any planned international flights to at least the end of the year, due to the country’s revised timeline for completing its vaccine rollout.

The Australian Government has revised its anticipated timeline for the completion of Australia’s vaccine rollout to the end-2021, with its timeline for significantly reopening international borders to mid-2022. The exception is for international flights currently occurring between Australia and New Zealand.

In February, during Qantas’ half-year trading update, the airline said that Qantas and Jetstar international flights would make a comeback from October 31st, instead of July, as it previously forecast. From that date most of Qantas’ international routes would resume, including flights to London, Singapore and Los Angeles.

“We remain optimistic that additional bubbles will open once Australia’s vaccine rollout is complete to countries who, by then, are in a similar position, but it’s difficult to predict which ones at this stage” Qantas said in a statement.

In the meantime, the airline said that it will continue to provide critical repatriation and freight flights overseas and support the recovery of travel at home. The resurgence of domestic travel remains the most important element of the group’s recovery. “We will reach out directly to any customers with a booking between 31st October 2021 and 19th December 2021, however recent levels of uncertainty have meant that international booking levels were relatively low.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said back in April that once borders do reopen, he believes it likely that people will have to use some kind of digital ‘vaccine passport’ to travel internationally.

“We have a duty of care too. As you know, we’re regarded as the safest airline in the world; but we have the duty to the care to our people and to our passengers. And if there’s a way of enhancing that in anything we do, we’re always going to be at the forefront doing it. So having a requirement, even if it wasn’t governments to do it, to ask people to be vaccinated before they get on our aircraft…you would of course, think that that’s the sensible thing to do…our customers are saying, it gives them confidence in travelling internationally."

“We’ve said for some time, we think to open up the international waters, you’re going to have to have a vaccination type passport. And the (Australian) government’s even said this, and other governments are saying it. But to travel, you either need to do quarantine or you need to be vaccinated eventually. And we know people were not going to go with the 14-day quarantine and it just kills travel. So the vaccination requirements looks like it’s the only way to restart the international markets again.”

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce