Qantas is looking to restart international flights from July, in a move that has earned the rebuke of the Australian government.
Australian deputy prime minister Michael McCormack has criticised the airline’s move to restart international services.
In a tersely-worded statement, McCormack, who is also minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development, says international borders will be opened “when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians”.
“Decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian government,” he adds.
The statement came as Qantas began ticket sales to international destinations, for travel from July, amid optimism that a vaccine — now being rolled out across various countries globally — could curb the spread of the coronavirus and restart global travel.
The carrier tells FlightGlobal: “Recently we have aligned the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021.”
Flights to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, originally meant to resume in March, have been pushed back to July, while flights to the United Kingdom, meant to start in October, have been brought forward.
Qantas also stressed that the restart of international flying “will be subject to vaccine roll-outs and borders reopening”.
Qantas group chief Alan Joyce said in a company business update in December that “international travel is likely to be at a virtual standstill until at least July”. The carrier currently only has scheduled international flights to neighbouring New Zealand.
Australia has imposed an international travel ban in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus into the country. Only Australian citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter under current restrictions.
Story updated with additional comments from Qantas.