Australia finally reopened its border to international visitors on Monday (21 February) with the UK providing the highest number of bookings to the country, which has effectively been closed for nearly two years due to the pandemic.

National carrier Qantas said it was operating flights from eight international destinations to Australia on Monday, including London, and expects to fly in more than 14,000 overseas visitors this week, as quarantine and border restrictions have been lifted for fully vaccinated passengers.

Booking data from travel technology firm Travelport showed that international flight bookings to Australia rose by 93 per cent in the week after the Australian government announced its plan to reopen the border.

UK-based travellers have made the highest number of bookings to the destination, with Germany the only other European market to make the top 10 list, according to Travelport’s figures.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “We can clearly see from the Australian government’s announcement that people are very keen to come back to Australia, and we continue to see strong bookings out of the US and UK, as well as South Africa and Canada.”

The airline restarted its international network for Australian citizens and visa holders on 1 November 2021, with several routes being reintroduced in the past few months. 

More routes will be added during March and early April, including Brisbane-Singapore, Sydney-Manila and Brisbane-Los Angeles.

Qantas is already flying from London to both Sydney and Melbourne, via its temporary hub at Darwin in the Northern Territory.

British Airways is also set to resume flights from Heathrow to Sydney on 27 March for the first time since April 2020.

Western Australia is the only part of Australia yet to reopen to international visitors but has set the date of 3 March for this ban to be lifted.

The state has previously delayed plans to reopen its border due to rising cases of the Omicron variant. 

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