From nothing to something, Australia’s hard international border is coming down. However, the situation remains complex; with every state having the ultimate say on who can enter. Here’s what the current plans are.

New South Wales

Australia’s most populous state has been at the forefront of reopening to international travel. From 1st November fully-vaccinated Australians and permanent residents will be able to enter through NSW, but an earlier proposal to allow tourists has been quashed. While testing requirements will be unveiled by the NSW government in the coming days, all travellers over 12 will need to be suitably vaccinated.

From 1st November, Qantas will begin relaunching international flights from Sydney to key destinations:

  • Los Angeles: 4 weekly returns from 1st November
  • London: 5 weekly from 1st November
  • Singapore: 3 weekly from 23rd November
  • Delhi: 3 weekly from 6th December
  • Nadi: 4 weekly from 7th December
  • Vancouver: From 18th December
  • Tokyo: From 19th December
  • Honolulu: From 20th December
  • Johannesburg: 3 weekly from 5th January
  • Phuket: 3 weekly from 12th January
  • Bangkok: 5 weekly from 14th January

“We hope that as vaccination rates in other states and territories increase, we’ll be able to restart more international flights out of their capital cities. In the meantime, Sydney is our gateway to the rest of the world.”

Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas
Australia International Travel Ban

Victoria

Emboldened by a surging vaccination rate, Victoria has followed the lead of NSW and will be allowing fully vaccinated Australians to enter from 1st November.

Vaccinated arrivals must undertake two PCR tests: within 72 hours of their flight to Melbourne and another within 24 hours of arrival. The unvaccinated will, unless a medical exemption is given, undertake 14 days of hotel quarantine – at their own expense – subject to a quarantine cap of 250 per week.

Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will both bring forward Melbourne flights to 1st November, while Qatar Airways will begin daily flights from 1st December. Thai Airways has flagged a potential resumption of Bangkok-Melbourne flights in April 2022.

Meanwhile the Qantas Group has brought forward Melbourne services, with other destinations including Japan and Hong Kong resuming in the new year:

  • London: 2 weekly return flights from 6th November (daily from 18th December)
  • Singapore: 3 weekly from 22nd November (daily from 18th December)
  • Los Angeles: Resuming from 18th December

Alan Joyce praised the Victorian Government’s decision, saying it “will make it easier for people to take the trips they’ve been longing to take”.

Other States Yet to Follow

Victoria and NSW will be opening up alone, with other states, including Queensland, indicating that their borders will remain closed until 2022. Western Australia, which has barred entry from Sydney and Melbourne for much of 2021, will continue with a hard international border. Consequently, Darwin has replaced Perth as the transit hub for Qantas’ London flights until April 2022.

Travel Bubble With Singapore

Australia is set to open a travel bubble with Singapore within weeks, with local media reporting a 23rd November opening. The proposed bubble “will see our borders open more quickly to Singapore,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The proposed arrangement would be similar to the travel bubble established between Australia and New Zealand’s South Island. PM Morrison noted that talks are centred around allowing vaccinated Singaporean students and business people first, before opening for tourists at a later date.

Responding on Friday, Singapore’s prime minister said he was “delighted” to hear of Australia’s invite.

The Return of Qantas A380 (early!)

Qantas has further accelerated the return of their fleet of A380 aircraft.

Originally expected to remain in long-term storage in the Californian desert until the end of 2023, two refurbished A380s are to commence flights to Los Angeles from April 2022. One aircraft could arrive by the end of this year to assist with crew training, ahead of its return to service.

A further three A380s will return to service from mid-November 2022, with the remaining five expected to return to service by early 2024.

Qantas is also looking to bring forward delivery of three brand new 787-9 aircraft, currently in storage with Boeing, several months earlier than planned as demand increases. Jetstar will bring the remaining five of their 11 Boeing 787-8s out of storage in Alice Springs over the coming months.