Qantas expects to start international flights in October

Qantas Airways chief executive Alan Joyce says he doesn't expect his airline will resume international travel except for New Zealand until late October, after the Australian population is vaccinated for COVID-19

The Sydney-based airline had been selling seats on international flights from July 1.

Those tickets sold for flights after July 1 and before Oct. 31 are being refunded.

Australia’s immunization program began this week. The government expects vaccine will be made available to anyone who wants it by October.

But Australia plans to administer a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine 12 weeks after the first. The wait between doses of the Pfizer product is only 3-to-4 weeks. So some of those taking AstraZenca might not be effectively vaccinated by the end of October.

Qantas still expected a “material increase” in flights between Australia and New Zealand by July, Joyce said.

“We’re confident that there should be a good case for it opening up in October,” he said.

Australia has banned its citizens from leaving the country except under limited circumstances in a bid to prevent them bringing home infections. Most of Australia’s COVID-19 cases were infected overseas and are diagnosed during 14-days hotel quarantine which are mandatory for travelers on arrival.

Qantas on Thursday posted a 1.47 billion Australian dollar ($1.17 billion) statutory loss for the six months through December and a AU$6.9 billion ($5.5 billion) fall in revenue due to pandemic restrictions.