Qantas has confirmed it will run several rescue flights, underwritten by the federal government, to bring up to 1315 stranded Australians home from overseas.
The airline will operate eight return services: four from New Delhi, three from London and one from Johannesburg.
Qantas said the flights would operate on a "cost recovery" basis using Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
All passengers will undergo COVID-19 tests at least 48 hours prior to departure and must receive a negative result in order to be allowed to board the flight. Masks will be mandatory on board and passengers will be tested again upon arrival in Australia and be required to enter quarantine for 14 days.
The federal government is planning to use a quarantine centre near Darwin to accommodate about 1000 overseas arrivals per month. In announcing the rescue flights, Qantas confirmed they would depart from Sydney but return from London and New Delhi to Darwin. The return from Johannesburg is yet to be confirmed.
Qantas said cabin crew, who have volunteered to work on the flights, would have additional protections including personal protective equipment, operate a scaled-back in-flight service and have 'crew only' areas at the front and back of the aircraft.
"I'd like to thank not only the crew who are volunteering to operate on these services but the many people behind the scenes who make sure these flights happen, particularly to cities where we don't typically operate to," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
The federal government has received criticism over placing a cap on international arrivals in July that saw many Australians unable to return home from overseas amid cancellations from airlines and claims of exorbitant airfares. International airlines have also criticised the cap, stating that some flights have only been able to carry 30 passengers on aircraft designed to carry 10 times that number.
The government announced last month it would raise the cap in stages.
The rescue flights will be the first international services operated by Qantas since June. The airline's international fleet is currently grounded, with most aircraft relocated to a desert storage facility in California.
Qantas one-way economy fares cost $2150 from London, $1750 from Johannesburg and $1500 from New Delhi.
Details are as follows:
Sydney to London
Departing Sydney to London Heathrow via Perth on October 19, November 4, November 8
London to Darwin
Departing London on October 22, November 7, November 11
Sydney to New Delhi
Departing Sydney on October 25, November 8, November 22, November 26
New Delhi to Darwin
Departing New Delhi on October 26, November 9, November 23, November 27
Johannesburg to Australia
Date to be advised