QANTAS Airways on November 1 restored its flight QF1 from Sydney to London Heathrow, this time via Darwin.
QANTAS issued this statement:
Nearly 600 days after Australia closed its international borders, Qantas commercial passenger flights have taken to the skies to reconnect Australia to the rest of the world.
QF12 from Los Angeles touched down in Sydney at 6.00 am on November 1 with no border or quarantine restrictions for incoming passengers who are fully vaccinated. QF1 (Sydney to London via Darwin) was the first Qantas International flight to depart out of Sydney at 6.30 pm on November 1.
While the national carrier has flown hundreds of Federal Government repatriation flights during the COVID-19 pandemic, and operated under a temporary border bubble arrangement with New Zealand earlier this year, these are the first regular Qantas international passenger flights after the Australian and NSW governments relaxed restrictions on overseas travel.
All passengers on Qantas International flights are required to be fully vaccinated, unless they are under 12 years old, are 12-17-year-olds traveling to Australia with their family or guardian, or have an exemption.
Initial flights are limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate families and parents in line with Federal Government requirements.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “This day has been a long time coming for our people and our customers. It’s wonderful to see Australians able to reunite with loved ones after such a long time apart.
“It’s been a very challenging time for our international crew, with many of them standing down since March 2020. We are in the process of standing up our Australian-based team members who are excited to get back to doing what they love.
“We are back in the air earlier than anticipated thanks to the millions of people who turned out in droves to get vaccinated. This made it possible for the Federal and NSW, and Victorian governments to open up Australia’s borders and remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers.
“International travel may be a little different for a while with some new requirements and guidelines in place, but one thing that hasn’t changed is Qantas’ commitments to safety and premium service. We are absolutely thrilled to welcome everyone back on board.”
Qantas Customer Services Supervisor on QF12, Adrienne Innes, said being back in the air was the highlight of her year.
“It was amazing to welcome back our passengers, and the whole team was really emotional and excited to be able to take care of them on their journey home.”
Qantas will operate international flights between Sydney and London and Los Angeles from November 1, with flights to other destinations relaunching in the coming weeks.