COVID-19

What you need to know to fly overseas

Travel industry figures predict a stampede following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that international borders will reopen in November.Flight Centre general manager Kelly Spencer said Fiji, Hawaii, UK, US, Singapore, Canada and New Zealand were the top countries for prospective travellers.The nationwide travel agency has seen a 300 per cent increase in inquiries since late Thursday night when news of the international border reopening leaked out.“When New Zealand opened up the level of pent-up demand was huge and we are anticipating an amazing travel boom (here),” Ms Spencer said. “It’s very exciting news considering we have been unable to travel for the past 18 months.”Ms Spencer said travel insurance would be a highly variable element depending upon the provider.She said basic policies would most likely not cover Covid-19 events but higher premiums would cover both getting sick and late cancellations.“Some international governments will require travel insurance to be taken out,” she said.“We feel that travel insurance is always around peace of mind (for customers) and what will be an uncertain time as things open back up.”Ms Spencer said accommodation providers were clamouring to advertise their Covid-safe credentials, as customers actively sought out this information.“Due to the high competition this is not resulting in any notable increase in prices,” she said.Qantas announced Friday it would bring forward the restart of its international flights to November 14.The national carrier will operate three weekly return flights between Sydney and London and three weekly return flights between Sydney and Los Angeles with its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.At this stage, all other international routes that were scheduled to resume from December 18 will continue as planned.Qantas said fares start from $1662 return for Sydney-Los Angeles and $1869 return for Sydney-London.Ms Spencer thinks that airfares will remain similar to pre-pandemic levels, however UNSW academic and former Qantas chief economist Dr Tony Webber thinks travellers will be in for a treat.“We might be looking at a 10–20 per discount initially on airfares as airlines look to get confidence back in air travel,” he said.“Then six to 12 months after that the airlines will look to repair their balance sheets and that will push airfares up higher.“That could mean prices go up about 5 per cent every year for a few years.”Dr Webber said overwhelming demand meant prices around peak travel times, such as the European summer, would be stable.International travelDomestically, he expected similar price drops to what happened after the first NSW lockdown, when Jetstar charged people $30 for a one-way trip from Sydney to Melbourne.As for the actual travel experience, TripADeal founder Norm Black said travellers were more likely to be sitting next to an empty seat, see line-ups for tickets replaced by online booking and have an even more regimented routine when moving through airports.“People are absolutely crazy to get out there, especially among the baby boomer and retiree group,” he said.“They are saying ‘we have lost two years of travel in retirement and are ready to go on holiday’.”University of Queensland infectious diseases expert Professor Paul Griffin said people should be closely monitoring case numbers in their desired destinations.He said it is also important to scrutinise details of travel insurance policies in the event you would get sick.“The main thing is to be well informed about the risks at that destination.”Got a news tip? Email [email protected] anchors our cruise industryAustralians may soon be setting off on cruises in ­Europe, the US and Asia but there is still no clear pathway for them to travel along their own coastline.Despite Scott Morrison announcing Australia will reopen to the world, a lack of a clear plan for the resumption of cruises is jeopardising the $5bn industry.Bookings for international cruise ship holidays have significantly increased over the past six months, according to Flight Centre general manager Kelly Spencer. Ms Spencer said travellers were mainly planning departures in 2022 and 2023.“Cruise bookings have been really ­resilient,” she said.Daily Telegraph – News Feed latest episodeCruise Lines International Association Australasia managing director Joel Katz said the industry remained in limbo in Australia.“Eighty per cent of the global cruise ship fleet will be back in service by December this year,” he said. “Australia is now one of the only major cruise markets in the world with no clear plan for ­cruising’s revival.“Australians love to cruise, but we now face the ridiculous possibility that we will be able to travel overseas to take a cruise but won’t be able to sail in our own waters.”Mr Katz said stringent new health protocols had allowed a successful resumption of cruising in dozens of countries overseas, where almost two million passengers had sailed since last year.“We need detailed discussions with Australian governments so we can break the cycle of inaction,” he said.“The health protocols introduced overseas are working and we need an opportunity to introduce them in Australia so we can plan a careful and responsible recovery.”TripADeal founder Norm Black said there has been strong demand for cruises to both Antarctica and Hawaii.Got a news tip? Email [email protected] – Stay Informed – Social Media

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