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Qantas will bring forward the restart of flights between Sydney and destinations including Singapore, Bangkok and Johannesburg as NSW prepares to become the first state to reopen for international travel on November 1.

Speaking at a press conference this morning with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline is about to exit the “darkest period” in its 100-year history.

From left: Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans on Friday morning. Credit:Louise Kennerley

He said the reopening of state and international borders over coming months meant the airline could bring back all 11,000 of its employees who are still stood down back to work in December, which was not expected to happen until June next year.

“Australians rolling up their sleeves means our planes and our people are getting back to work much earlier than we expected,” he said.

“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 had flights from Sydney to New York and London scheduled from November 1, and this morning said it would launch the following flights:

  • From Sydney to Fiji from December 7 (previously December 19);
  • To Johannesburg on January 5 (previously March);
  • Bangkok on January 14 (two months earlier); and
  • Jetstar flight to Phuket on January 12 (more than two months earlier).

Qantas also said it would launch a new service to New Delhi on December 6 – the first time the airline has flown to the Indian capital in almost a decade.

Qantas and Jetstar are also preparing to ramp-up capacity between Melbourne and Sydney, with 18 return flights per day increasing to up to 37 return flights per day by Christmas.

All passengers on Qantas and Jetstar international flights aged 12 and over will be required to be fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, unless they have an exemption.

They will also be required to return a negative COVID test from an approved PCR testing site within 72 hours of departure.

Foreign airlines are also preparing for Australia to reopen its international border. Cathay Pacific will operate a full pre-COVID capacity of 10 return flights between Sydney and Hong Kong per week from November 1, while Singapore Airlines has opened bookings for 17 weekly flights out of Sydney.

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