- Qantas and Jetstar are launching more flights between Victoria and New South Wales as the border between the states is set to open on November 23.
- The airlines will operate more than 250 flights a week on five routes.
- The flight routes include Melbourne to Sydney and Mildura to Sydney.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Qantas and Jetstar are launching more flights between Victoria and New South Wales as the border between the states is set to open.
On Wednesday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that the border between NSW and Victoria would open at 12.01am on November 23, with free movement allowed between the states.
From that date, Qantas and its budget airline Jetstar will handle more than 250 flights a week across five routes between the states – an increase from 10 return flights a week between Melbourne and Sydney.
For Qantas, the flights include Melbourne to Sydney, Mildura to Sydney and Bendigo to Sydney – which will kick off in December. On Jetstar, it includes the Melbourne to Sydney, Melbourne to Ballina and Melbourne to Newcastle flight routes.
If demand ramps up, the airlines will look to add more flights.
The extra flights will see Qantas Group’s domestic capacity increase from 30% of pre-COVID levels to just under 40% from late November. It also means more aircraft taking flight and employees returning to work.
“November 23 will be a day many people will now be looking forward to,” Qantas Domestic & International CEO Andrew David said in a statement. “It’s exciting for the family and friends who can finally be reunited after months apart. It’s also great for businesses, and great for getting more of our planes in the air and more of our people back to work.”
Before COVID, the Melbourne to Sydney route was the busiest flight route in Australia and second busiest in the world. On extremely busy days, Qantas and Jetstar would operate more than 100 flights between the states, but when lockdowns hit these would drop to as low as one flight per day.
“When you consider the social and economic impact of border closures, we’ve always said things should open up as soon as it’s safe to do so,” David added. “New South Wales has led the way in taking a sensible, risk-based approach to borders that’s supported by what is probably one of the best contact tracing programs in the world. It’s great to see New South Wales and Victoria working together on what is a national issue.”
Qantas, however, is still hoping for the Queensland and Western Australian borders to open up.
“Queensland and Western Australia are unfortunately taking a different approach, which doesn’t seem based on a realistic assessment of risk,” David said.
If Queensland was to open its border to NSW – currently, it is closed to 32 local government areas across greater Sydney that have been deemed as COVID hotspots – Qantas believes domestic capacity will increase to 50% by Christmas.
“With most international travel off limits for a while, we’re expecting to see a boom in domestic tourism once more borders open up,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said at the AGM in October.
The extra flights also come after Qantas announced a new scenic flight from Sydney to Uluru, buoyed by the success of its 7-hour ‘flight to nowhere’ that sold out in 10 minutes.
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