After four months of border closures, Qantas and Jetstar are today set to help loved ones reunite as the first regular flights between Melbourne and Sydney take off.
The airlines will operate a combined 17 return flights between Sydney and Melbourne today, carrying around 4500 people. During the lockdown, flights on the route dropped to as low as one flight per day on what has historically been the busiest air route in the country and the second busiest in the world.
This marks the first time Victorians are able to travel anywhere interstate without quarantine since July, which for thousands of people will mean seeing family after months of being apart.
Qantas will today also start a new route between Sydney and Mildura, which was originally due to start in March, and flights between Sydney and Bendigo will resume in early December. Jetstar will resume regular flights between Melbourne and Newcastle and Ballina (Byron Bay) this week.
Following the announcement earlier this month that the NSW/VIC border will reopen, more than 25,000 seats were sold in the first 48 hours. Jetstar’s recent ‘Return for Free’ sale also saw huge demand from Victorians in particular, with the three most popular routes being out of Melbourne.
FREQUENT FLYER EXTENSION
Qantas has today announced an offer to extend the Frequent Flyer status of hundreds of thousands of its members for another 12 months.
To qualify for the extension – and retain the various benefits that come with each membership tier – members facing expiry in 2021 simply need to book a Qantas-operated flight between now and their current tier expiry date for travel until the end of 2021.
This follows an automatic 12 month extension that was provided at the start of the pandemic, as travel restrictions prevented members from being able to do the flying necessary to retain their Silver, Gold, Platinum or Platinum One status.
By early December, Qantas Frequent Flyers will have access to 30 of the 35 domestic and regional lounges across the airline’s network.
COMMENTS FROM QANTAS GROUP CEO ALAN JOYCE:
“After a very tough year for a lot of people, this is a big milestone in Australia opening back up. It’s going to be a really emotional day for a lot of our passengers. We’re going to see the kind of reunions normally reserved for long haul international flights rather than two cities that are only an hour apart.
“It’s a great day for a lot of our people, who have been stood down for months. They have been so professional through all this and we’re thrilled to see more of them coming back to work.
“The Melbourne to Sydney route is normally the busiest on our network. During lockdown, it was down to just one flight a day. We’re still a long way off having it back to full strength, but the sharp rebound in travel demand we’re seeing gives us a lot of confidence.
“Even though they haven’t been able to fly, the loyalty of our customers through this crisis has been amazing. In recognition of that, we’re offering to extend their Frequent Flyer status for another 12 months when they book a Qantas flight, which is something they might have otherwise lost, particularly with international travel off the agenda for a while.
“As borders continue to open, we’re expecting a boom in domestic travel. We know a lot of people will choose to fly Qantas and Jetstar because they know exactly what service and product to expect, whether they are travelling next week or next year,” added Mr Joyce.
Qantas Domestic flights continue to have complimentary baggage, food and drink included with every seat and free Wi-Fi on flights operated by its Boeing 737 aircraft.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Qantas and Jetstar have introduced a number of initiatives to help customers to book with greater flexibility, including allowing a flight to be moved free of charge, as well as introducing additional health and safety measures through its Fly Well program.
- Pre-COVID, Melbourne-Sydney was the second busiest route in the world carrying 10 million people per year.
- Qantas and Jetstar operated up to 45 return flights per day – a flight every 15 minutes in peak periods. During the pandemic, this got as low as 1 return flight per day, for essential travel only.
- Today, Qantas and Jetstar will operate 17 return flights, carrying more than 4500 people. Around two thirds of customers travelling today are flying out of Melbourne.
- Increased flying between Victoria and New South Wales will see the Qantas Group’s overall domestic capacity increase from around 30 per cent per cent of pre-COVID levels to just under 40 per cent. Further easing of border restrictions could see this increase to 60 per cent by Christmas.