COVID-19: Qantas flight QF12 touches down in Sydney from Los Angeles as borders reopen

Nearly 600 days after Australia closed its international borders amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Qantas has restarted its international passenger flight schedule.

Early on Monday morning, QF12 from Los Angeles touched down in Sydney at 6am with no border or quarantine restrictions for incoming passengers, all of whom were fully vaccinated.

The flight's arrival was met with "cheers and tears", according to an airline spokesperson.

It was scheduled to be the first to arrive in Sydney following the opening of New South Wales borders overnight, however Singapore Airlines flight SQ221 touched down nearly an hour early, landing at 515am (local time), 45 minutes before the Qantas arrival from Los Angeles.

All passengers on Qantas international flights are required to be fully vaccinated unless they are under 12 years old or have a valid exemption. 

Initial flights are limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families and parents in line with government border reopening requirements.

"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 Group CEO Alan Joyce.

"It's been 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."

Qantas will operate international flights between Sydney and London and Los Angeles from Monday, with flights to other destinations relaunching in coming weeks.

Qantas' flagship flight QF1 Sydney - London will be the first Qantas international flight to depart from Sydney, leaving on Monday evening, stopping off in Darwin.

"We are back in the air earlier than anticipated thanks to the millions of people who turned out in droves to get vaccinated. This made it possible for the federal, and NSW and Victorian governments to open up Australia's borders and remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers," said Joyce.

"We are absolutely thrilled to welcome everyone back on board."