Qantas has operated its first scheduled international flight since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as other signs of reopening emerge in the Asia-Pacific.
Flight QF35, operated by a Boeing 787-9, departed Melbourne bound for Singapore at 11:50AM, marking Australia’s first step to reconnect to the world air travel market after nearly two years of being all but entirely cut off from the world.
In addition, Qantas plans to start operating a new four-times-weekly service on the Melbourne-Delhi route from 22 December. The Melbourne-Delhi flight will operate via Adelaide, while the return flight will be direct. The carrier had previously announced Sydney-Delhi flights.
Qantas will start operating Melbourne-London on 27 November, and Melbourne-Los Angeles on 19 December. Like Qantas’s Sydney-London service, the Melbourne-London service will use 787-9s operating via Darwin.
The move follows the decision of some state governments to open up for vaccinated travelers, who are not required to serve quarantine. Initially, only vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate families can fly to Australia, as per federal government requirements.
Separately, Singapore has reached a deal with India for vaccinated passengers for six daily flights from the city of Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai, says the country’s civil aviation authority. The move adds India to Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangement, whereby fully vaccinated travelers can fly to the city state and not serve quarantine.
VTL services between Singapore and India commence from 29 November. In mid-November, New Delhi reopened itself to foreign vaccinated tourists.
In Vietnam, 20 November saw the resort island of Phu Quoc received its first flight of international tourists under Vietnam’s ‘vaccine passport’ programme. The flight, operated by Vietjet, carried 204 passengers.
Reflecting Vietnam’s conservative approach to Covid-19, travellers under the scheme are largely restricted to pre-designated resort areas and locations.
Other Vietnamese provinces are also looking at cautiously opening up to vaccinated passengers under similar schemes.