Sydneysiders scramble to book flights before November 1 opening date

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Thousands of holiday-hungry Australians raced to book an overseas holiday after NSW announced it would reopen its international border on November 1.  

Vaccinated Australians and their immediate family can in a few weeks’ time travel overseas from any state, but only NSW will let them return without quarantining. 

Singapore Airlines responded by opening 32,000 seats on flights heading overseas  before Christmas.

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The airline will operate 17 flights between Sydney and Changi Airport every week with an extra 5,000 tickets available per week. 

Travellers will be asked to quarantine on their arrival in Singapore, but this requirement could be scrapped in just a few weeks time if Australia is included in a list of countries with a ‘vaccinated travel lane’.

Webjet chief executive David Galt said there was an ‘immediate increase’ in the number of flights booked after the NSW premier’s announcement. 

Mr Galt said the preferred international destinations were London, Fiji, Auckland, and Dublin and domestically it was Byron Bay and Melbourne that led the pack. 

He said a return flight from Sydney to London would set travellers back about $1,400, about $900 to Singapore, and less than $500 to Fiji.

Mr Galt predicted fare prices would drop in coming weeks as airlines increase their capacities.

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WHAT AIRLINES ARE OFFERING TO FULLY VACCINATED TRAVELLERS: 

QANTAS 

November 1: Five weekly flights from Sydney to London and four from Sydney to Los Angeles

December 18: Flights to Singapore, Fiji and Vancouver

VIRGIN 

December 16: Flights from Sydney to Fiji 

December 17: Flights from Melbourne to Fiji

December 18: Flights from Brisbane to Fiji 

FIJI AIRWAYS 

December 1: Daily flights from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Fiji

AIR NEW ZEALAND 

Limited flights between New Zealand and Australia are currently operating with travellers required to have quarantine accomodation booked to fly

SINGAPORE AIRLINES 

The airline is currently operating one passenger flight a day to Sydney

November 1: 17 weekly flights between Sydney and Singapore will be eligible for passenger sales 

AMERICAN AIRLINES   

January 4: Daily flights from Los Angeles to Sydney

January 6: Return leg from Sydney to Los Angeles

THAI AIRWAYS 

November 17: Daily flights between Sydney and Bangkok 

Meanwhile, Australian flagship airline Qantas announced flights will recommence a fortnight early with five weekly flights between Sydney and London and four between Sydney and Los Angeles.

Travel-starved Australians will also be able to jet off to Fiji, Vancouver, and Singapore from December 18, however this date could also be brought forward. 

Qantas boss Alan Joyce said removing quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated is a ‘sensible approach’ and brought NSW up to speed with other global cities.   

‘Bringing forward the reopening of Australia to the world and removing quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers entering New South Wales is a massive step towards life as we knew it,’ Mr Joyce said. 

Virgin Australia similarly heralded the announcement as ‘fantastic news for travellers, the aviation industry and businesses’ that rely on open borders. 

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The airline brought forward flights to Fiji a week earlier to December 18, with daily services flying out from Melbourne and Sydney and three a week from Brisbane.

‘We’re pleased to bring forward the resumption of our Fiji services to better align with the start of the summer holiday period, making it easier for travellers to get to their destination in advance of the festive season,’ Virgin said. 

‘We know Australians are excited to finally be able to travel overseas again which is evident by the strong booking demand we’ve experienced for our Fiji flights since the federal government announced the road map to reopening Australia to the world earlier this month.’ 

Virgin flights to New Zealand and Bali will not restart until 2022.  

Fully vaccinated Australians are not required to quarantine in Fiji or Thailand from November due to the country’s status as ‘low risk’. 

Returning passengers will need to have a Covid test before flying and be able to prove they are fully vaccinated. 

Overseas arrivals touching down in Sydney who are not fully vaccinated will be capped at 210 per week and will need to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.  

On Friday the NSW Government announced the two-week hotel quarantine for international arrivals would be scrapped and vaccinated residents and foreigners will be allowed to freely enter the state.

Later that day, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was forced to clarify that Australia’s borders will not yet open to tourists.

‘All we are talking about now is Australian citizens, residents and their immediate families,’ he said.

‘We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment. I want to be clear about that.’

NSW has reached its target of 80 per cent full vaccination for people aged over 16, with only 301 new cases recorded on Sunday. 

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