Australian airline Qantas said on Thursday that it had cut all international flights by the end of October, except flights to New Zealand, as the border restrictions are expected to remain in effect.
The decision comes after Australian tourism minister Simon Birmingham said overseas travel was unlikely to restart before next year.
“With Australia’s borders set to remain closed for some time, we have cancelled most international flights until late October,” a Qantas spokesperson said in a statement.
“We still have some flights scheduled across the Tasman in the coming months, with the expected travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.”
Australia and New Zealand lift restrictions on coronaviruses after successfully suppressing their spread to relatively small numbers.
- New Zealand canceled a 24-day run with no new cases on Tuesday after it emerged that two women who had recently traveled from the UK were released from quarantine early without being tested for the virus, although it had mild symptoms .
A special arrangement could be made for some travelers, such as foreign students, but international tourism is not likely in the near future, Birmingham told the Australian Today Show on Thursday morning.
“In terms of letting tourism and travel just open up freely again, I think that’s quite some way off,” he said.
The comments come after he urged Australians to holiday locally, to help replace some of the Aus$45.2 billion (US$31 billion) international tourism nets the country every year.
“We want them to feel an almost patriotic duty to get out and support the jobs and small businesses of their fellow citizens by having whatever Aussie holiday they can,” he said in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.
Some Australians were already embracing new freedoms, with passengers on the carrier doubling from 34,000 last week to 64,000 this week, according to Qantas.
Australia has only two full-service airlines, Virgin and Qantas, which are complemented by their low-cost branches Tigerair and Jetstar.
The Virgin Australia Group was administered voluntarily in late April when the global aviation industry came to a standstill due to international border closings to slow the spread of the corona virus.
Both airlines are slowly starting their domestic flights, and Qantas hopes to increase routes to 40 percent of the pre-pandemic level by July when demand increases.
(Source – ET Travel)