Flights from the UK could be among the first to be allowed back to Australia, the boss of Qantas has predicted.
The country’s borders are currently closed, with only Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family and travellers from New Zealand who have been there for at least 14 days allowed in. Australians can only leave the country in exceptional circumstances.
The ban has seen airlines, including Qantas, halt international flights until progress is made with vaccines.
Alan Joyce, Qantas Group chief executive, told Australia’s Nine Today show: “A few months ago, I thought maybe Singapore, Taiwan and Japan would be first cabs off the list but with the great progress that’s been made in the US and the UK, you may see those markets opening up before the rest because the vaccine rollout has been so successful in both countries.”
He added the airline was “still planning to be ready [to fly long-haul international] at the end of this calendar year”.
However, there has been poor take-up of the vaccine in Australia, leading to Joyce saying he would offer discounts, vouchers, increased frequent flier points and prizes to those having vaccinations.
The Financial Times reports that only 4.2 million of 25 million Australians have had their jab.