Qantas ramps up with flights to Singapore, India, Phuket as Australia borders reopen

Qantas will start its first commercial flights between Australia and India in almost a decade before Christmas. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Qantas Airways is gearing up for a Christmas rush, bringing back all its Australian workers and adding flights as the nation's borders reopen after more than 18 months of near-isolation.

The airline will start its first commercial flights between Australia and India in almost a decade before Christmas, and flights to Singapore, Bangkok, Fiji, Phuket and Johannesburg will resume ahead of schedule, it said in a statement on Friday (Oct 22).

In a separate statement later on Friday, Qantas said it will bring forward international flights from Melbourne after the Victorian state government removed quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers from November. Flights from Melbourne to London will start six weeks sooner on Nov 6, followed by those from Melbourne to Singapore on Nov 22.

About 11,000 Qantas employees who have been stood down during the Covid-19 pandemic will return by early December.

The carrier will also bring back two of its mothballed giant A380 airliners three months earlier than planned, and is in discussions with Boeing about accelerating the delivery of three new 787 Dreamliners that have been in storage for most of the pandemic.

Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, will start A380 flights to Sydney from Dec 1 to increase capacity on the route ahead of Christmas, the carrier said on Friday.

The changes come after Australia's biggest state, New South Wales, said that from Nov 1, returning fully vaccinated citizens would no longer need to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine, effectively ending a border ban that has kept the nation largely isolated from the rest of the world since the pandemic started.

"This is the best news we've had in almost two years and it will make a massive difference to thousands of our people who finally get to fly again," Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce said.

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