On top of today’s announcement that Qantas will be shedding a staggering 6,000 jobs, CEO Alan Joyce has also confirmed that the airline will be parking its fleet of long haul aircraft for the foreseeable future, with international operations not expected to resume any time before July 2021.

As part of the airline’s three-year plan to shed some $15 billion in costs, the six remaining Qantas-owned Boeing 747 planes will be retired immediately, six months ahead of schedule. In addition, the airline’s fleet of 12 long-haul Airbus A380 planes will be grounded for three years.

Speaking to media, Joyce noted that the planes are being “put into the Mojave Desert” in the United States for mothballing. Planes not in regular use by airlines are often stored in desert areas, owing to the fact that the dry air reduces corrosion.

And while those big, long haul routes aren’t likely to return for Qantas for three years now, Joyce also asserted the airline does not have plans for any international travel at all to resume until at least July next year.

Joyce stated that while “it’s clear that international travel is likely to be stalled for a long time. IATA – the peak body for airlines – says it will take more than three years for global travel to return to 2019 levels,” he also expects Qantas to park all international operations – including short haul – for at least a year.

The resumption of international travel is a many-layered issue largely involving various individual country’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic. So while other nations float the idea of so-called “travel bubbles” for Australian tourists, accessing them remains entirely dependent on Australian Government direction for travellers (i.e. as long as the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine order is place, it’ll be largely off the table) as well as various airline policy itself.

But no matter what, the constant remains: It’s gonna be a long, long time before we’re all able to internationally move about freely once again.

Image: Getty Images / Lisa Maree Williams