With the re-opening of the NSW borders for Victoria, Australian carriers have announced several additional flights between the two states.
Qantas and Jetstar will operate a combined 17 return flights between Sydney and Melbourne giving them 4500 seats capacity.
During the lockdown, flights on the route dropped to as low as one flight per day on what has historically been the busiest air route in the country and the second busiest in the world.
This marks the first time Victorians can travel anywhere interstate without quarantine since July which, for thousands of people, will mean seeing family after months of being apart.
Qantas yesterday also commenced a new route between Sydney and Mildura, which was originally due to start in March 2020, and flights between Sydney and Bendigo will resume in early December.
Jetstar will resume regular flights between Melbourne and Newcastle and Ballina (Byron Bay) this week.
Qantas has also offered to extend the frequent flyer status of hundreds of thousands of its members for another 12 months.
To qualify for the extension and retain the various benefits that come with each membership tier – members facing expiry in 2021 simply need to book a Qantas-operated flight between now and their current tier expiry date for travel until the end of 2021.
This follows an automatic 12-month extension that was provided to Qantas Frequent Flyers at the start of the pandemic, as travel restrictions prevented members from being able to do the flying necessary to retain their Silver, Gold, Platinum, or Platinum One status.
By early December, Qantas Frequent Flyers will have access to 30 of the 35 domestic and regional lounges across the airline’s network.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said that after a “very tough year for a lot of people”, the reopening of the NSW-Victoria border was a big milestone in Australia opening back up.
Yesterday was a great day for a lot of our people, who have been stood down for months. They have been so professional through all this and we are thrilled to see more of them coming back to work.
Virgin Australia will operate four return services per day (28 per week) between Melbourne and Sydney (both ways), and progressively increase frequencies ahead of the Christmas holidays.
Customers from Victoria will also be able to connect to regional NSW destinations such as Ballina Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour.
With the ACT government following NSW in easing its border restrictions for Victorians, Virgin will increase frequencies between Melbourne and Canberra to four-times-weekly from today.
From tomorrow, the airline will bring forward the re-introduction of four-times-weekly services between Melbourne and Newcastle. The service was originally scheduled to be re-introduced from 15 December.
By Christmas, Virgin Australia will have more than 20,000 seats per week available for booking both ways between Melbourne and Sydney.
Virgin is also offering one-way introductory fares (including baggage, seat selection, and Velocity Frequent Flyer points) from as low as $119 on 10 routes between NSW and Victoria.
“The aviation and tourism industries rely on a connected nation and we’re elated that Victoria is now open to New South Wales,” A Virgin spokesperson said.
“Victorians should be proud of their efforts to control COVID-19 and today is a day to be celebrated.
“We’re seeing some strong uptake on flights between Melbourne and Sydney, and we expect this to continue as we move closer to Christmas.
“We know many Australians are excited to reunite with their loved ones, and we remain hopeful that borders will continue to safely re-open and more Australians return to the skies in time for Christmas.”
Edited by: Joe Cusmano