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A Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner taxiing at JFK Airport. (Photo: Shaquille Khan)

Qantas Operates Repatriation Flights While Growing Domestic Operations

COVID-19 continues to drastically affect the airline industry, and several airlines — particularly in the U.S. — are actively and rapidly adding new routes to attract passengers and stay afloat. Meanwhile, Qantas looks to work with the Australian government to bring home 1,315 Australians who are currently stuck abroad for various reasons.

From mid-October through late-November, the Australian flag carrier will operate eight inbound flights to bring home 1,315 Australian citizens from the United Kingdom, India and South Africa. For these flights, Qantas will use one of its powerhouses in its long-haul international fleet, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, to complete its repatriation service flights. 

 “As the national carrier, this is something we are proud to do. Since the pandemic started, we’ve operated over 100 international flights to bring Australians home with the government’s support,”  Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said. “These are the first international passenger flights, Qantas has operated since June, with commercial flights unviable due to ongoing travel restrictions.”

International freight flights have continued throughout the pandemic to help maintain key supply chains. While these flights are expedited by the Australian government and thus are not regularly scheduled flights, Qantas has taken this opportunity to potentially avoid grounding any more aircraft while the airline makes sure its active aircraft are ready once travel demand increases and international borders reopen. 

Qantas Grows Domestic Flight Network

In the meantime, aside from the airline’s beneficial repatriation flights and iconic sightseeing flights, or the “flights to nowhere”, which were a part of the airline’s push for Australian tourism and landmarks, the carrier has also announced plans to expand its domestic flight operations. 

Despite the existing international border restrictions, the airline’s addition of more flights will hopefully allow it to effectively continue moving its domestic fleet of Airbus A320s, Bombardier Q300s, Boeing 717s and 737s across the country. 

In mid-September, Qantas officially announced more flights from the Australian capital, Canberra, to northern Australia and along the east coast, featuring an increase in flights to Brisbane and Gold Coast, Australia. The airline plans to operate 14 weekly flights — up from four — to Brisbane while Gold Coast will see up to four weekly flights. 

In addition, Qantas recently officially announced brand new flights from one of its major hubs in Sydney, flying to Merimbula, Australia on the country’s southeastern coast. The airline will operate four weekly nonstop flights in the Q300 turboprop aircraft. The new flights to Merimbula will begin on Dec. 18 during the summer season. 

 The airline’s commitment to its domestic operations and growth will potentially play a large role in its international flight resumptions within the airline’s route network. However, for now, the airline will have to wait and see if its increased flight operations will generate enough travel demand to remain sustainable and competitive in the region. 

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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