SYDNEY -- Qantas Airways Ltd. announced Thursday it will resume international flights to and from Australia at the end of October, almost four months later than estimated.
"The date change aligns with the expected timeframe for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to be effectively complete," the airlines said in a statement.
Australia, which began the first phase of its vaccination program aimed at vaccinating frontline workers this week, has kept its borders closed since March 2020 and has imposed a ban on overseas travel, although it runs a low number of repatriation flights.
"Capacity will be lower than pre-COVID levels, with frequencies and aircraft type deployed on each route in line with the projected recovery of international flying," Qantas said. "International capacity is not expected to fully recover until 2024."
The airline plans to resume all flights to 22 of its 25 pre-Covid international destinations including Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Johannesburg from Oct. 31.
However, it has yet to give a date for the resumption of flights to New York, Osaka and Santiago, which is one of the busiest flight routes in Latin America.
Meanwhile, Qantas' low-cost subsidiary JetStar will resume flights to all of its 13 international destinations, according to the statement.
In another press release on Thursday, Qantas said it posted a pre-tax loss of AU$ 1.03 billion ($820 million) between June and December 2020, compared to AU$ 445 million recorded in the second half of 2019.
"These figures are stark but not surprising," Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said.
“During the half we saw the second wave in Victoria and the strictest domestic travel restrictions since the pandemic began. Virtually all of our international flying and 70 percent of domestic flying stopped, and with it went three-quarters of our revenue," he added.
“Despite the huge challenges, these results show the Group’s underlying strength."
In November, the Australian flag carrier announced that it will outsource personnel from the first quarter of 2021 to reduce costs due to the Covid-19 crisis, resulting in 2,000 workers losing their jobs.
Approximately 29,000 coronavirus infections have been recorded in the country, including 909 deaths.