First international flight arrives at Sydney airport after border reopening

Steve Worner /

After 20 months, Australia has opened its international borders once again. And on November 1, 2021, the country welcomed its first international commercial flight. 

QF12 from Los Angeles touched down in Sydney at 06:00 on November 1, 2021. This is also the first international flight arrival with no border or quarantine restrictions for incoming passengers who are fully vaccinated.

At 18:30 on the same day, November 1, 2021, QF1 (Sydney to London via Darwin) will be the first Qantas International flight to depart from Sydney.

“This day has been a long time coming for our people and our customers. It’s wonderful to see Australians able to reunite with loved ones after such a long time apart,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce in a press release from the airline.

“It’s been a very challenging time for our international crew, with many of them stood down since March 2020. We are in the process of standing up our Australian-based team members who are excited to get back to doing what they love,” Joyce added.

“International travel may be a little different for a while with some new requirements and guidelines in place, but one thing that hasn’t changed is Qantas’ commitments to safety and premium service. We are absolutely thrilled to welcome everyone back on board.”

Qantas Customer Services Supervisor on flight QF12, Adrienne Innes said that being back in the air was the highlight of her year.

“It was amazing to welcome back our passengers, and the whole team was really emotional and excited to be able to take care of them on their journey home.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Qantas has flown federal government repatriation flights and also operated under a short-lived travel bubble arrangement with New Zealand in early 2021. However, the flights of November 1, 2021 are the first regular Qantas international passenger flights after the Australian government relaxed its restrictions on overseas travel. 

All passengers on Qantas international flights are required to be fully vaccinated, unless they are under 12 years old, are 12-17 year olds travelling to Australia with their family or guardian or have an exemption.

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