Australian airline carrier Qantas has started to accept bookings for six international routes from December 18, with flights from Australia to destinations including London, Los Angeles and Singapore.

The flights are mostly departing from Australia’s big east coast cities – Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney – but some will also leave from Perth. It's all based on the assumption the federal government will relax border restrictions before Christmas, if vaccination rates continue to climb. Other destinations on the cards include Vancouver, Japan and Fiji.

The last time any airline offered overseas flights for general Aussie punters was in March 2020 after the federal government put a ban on travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

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Qantas will require all airline employees to be fully vaccinated by November 15, “as part of the national carrier’s commitment to safety”. There will be exceptions for medical reasons but it expects those cases to be very rare. It added that the decision was reached after sending a survey to 22,000 Qantas and Jetstar employees to seek their views on vaccination. It received 12,000 responses, which Qantas says is one of the biggest single surveys on the topic in Australia.

"The results showed that of those who responded: 89 per cent had already been vaccinated or are planning to be; four per cent were unwilling or unable to get the jab; and around three-quarters think it should be a requirement for all employees to be vaccinated and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren’t vaccinated."

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has recently criticised some state leaders for saying they'd keep borders closed even after vaccination targets were reached.

"Unfortunately I think there's one or two states that are taking a more conservative view on that, and departing from the national plan,” he said at a conference last week, according to Traveller. “We might get into a situation where from Sydney you can visit your relatives in London, maybe Dublin, but you can't visit your relatives in Perth, or maybe Cairns."

Joyce has acknowledged the international bookings opportunistic, but says it's better for the airline to be ready to go when it can, according to Channel Nine. "On current projections, Australia is expected to reach National Cabinet's 80 per cent vaccination threshold in December 2021, which would trigger the gradual reopening of international borders."