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Qantas to mount repatriation flights from four cities to Australia

Flights from Auckland, Hong Kong, London and Los Angeles to Australia will be available for those looking to return to Down Under

Qantas has announced a series of rescue flights to bring back Australians to Australia over the next few weeks.

Four cities are chosen: Auckland, Hong Kong, London and Los Angeles – arguably the most significant city for Australia in each continent – where there will be at least one flight a week.

Qantas said that these flights are mounted to facilitate essential travel as well as for Australians who with to return home. For those who wish to book, you will have to book direct on Qantas.com.

The fine print

Given that these flights are mounted under extraordinary circumstances, there are some caveats for these flights, which Qantas has listed on their page. In essence:

  • Only economy class seats will be available for booking.
  • There will be limited onboard food and beverage service – which we can presume
  • There will be no in-flight entertainment, as Qantas has suspended its licencing agreement with the supplier at the moment 
  • No Qantas Frequent Flyer benefits will be given. This means that the flight will not earn status credits and Qantas points, nor will seats be bookable with points.
  • Seat selection is also unavailable to enable Qantas to allocate seats factoring in social distancing requirements.

Full schedule

The schedules and fares are as follow:

SectorDates of opsFlight no.Dep / Arr
(flight time)
AircraftFare (one-way, Economy)
HKG-BNE15, 17, 22, 24 & 29 Apr; 1 & 6 MayQF981930 – 0615 (+1)
8h 45m
B787-9HKD3499
HKG-MEL18, 20, 25 & 27 Apr; 2 & 4 MayQF301930 – 0655 (+1)
9h 25m
B787-9HKD3497
BNE-LAX16, 23, 30 AprQF151000 – 0600
13h
B787-9AUD749
LAX-BNE17 & 24 Apr, 1 MayQF162230 – 0520 (+2)
13h 50m
B787-9USD461
MEL-LHR19 & 26 Apr, 3 MayQF101515 – 0505 (+1)
22h 50m
B787-9AUD1335
PER-LHR19 & 26 Apr, 3 May QF101850 – 0505 (+1)
17h 15m
B787-9AUD1335
LHR-MEL22 & 29 Apr, 6 MayQF91210 – 1855 (+1)
21h 45m
B787-9GBP721
BNE-AKL16,18, 23, 25 & 30 Apr; 2 MayQF1190925 – 1435
3h 10m
B787-9AUD335
MEL-AKL19, 20, 26 & 27 Apr; 3 & 4 MayQF1511030 – 1535
3h 5m
B787-9AUD335
AKL-BNE16,18, 23, 25 & 30 Apr; 2 MayQF1261715 – 1855
3h 40m
B787-9NZD320
AKL-MEL19, 20, 26 & 27 Apr; 3 & 4 MayQF1561610 – 1805
3h 55m
B787-9NZD320

Qantas has tentatively listed that it will be using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to operate these flights, but I will imagine that it will deploy an aircraft that will best suit the demand closer to date.

For instance, for the Hong Kong and Los Angeles services, Qantas can possibly deploy the A380 if there’s a huge demand, while still maintaining a social distancing policy on the flight.

How do these fares compare?

Virgin Australia is also mounting some flights to Hong Kong and Los Angeles from its Brisbane base.

Virgin’s fare is somewhat comparable to Qantas’, with the biggest difference being about AUD100 between the two:

SectorQantas fareVirgin Australia fare
Hong Kong to BrisbaneHKD3499HKD2983
Brisbane to Los AngelesAUD749AUD855
Los Angeles to BrisbaneUSD461USD475

Unlike Qantas who is only selling seats on the Hong Kong to Australia sector, Virgin Australia is also selling flights from Brisbane to Hong Kong at AUD625, one way.

Comparing these to regular fares before COVID-19 consumed the aviation industry, the fares can be a little pricier than usual, given that you can get a return sale fare from Hong Kong to Australia from HKD3500.

But of course, these are extraordinary times, so the price is very reasonable for a rescue flight, and even more reasonable than the AUD1000 that Qantas originally wanted to charge passengers on its Wuhan rescue service back in January (this was later retracted when the government footed the bill).

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