Stranded Australians will be able to access regular flights home from London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Auckland for the next four weeks, Foreign Minister Marise Payne says.
Qantas and Virgin Australia will operate the services, which have been organised after talks with the federal government.
“Many Australians will be able to get to one of these four destinations. They can do so knowing there will be an Australian airline to get them home,” Senator Payne said in a statement on Friday night.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the month-long window would allow Australians to get home as soon as possible, while also providing freight capacity to exporters and importers.
He indicated the government had helped fund the services on top of the $1 billion support package already announced for the industry.
But it’s unclear whether the increase in flights will make it any cheaper for stranded travellers and expatriates to get home amid skyrocketing long haul flight prices in recent weeks.
The cheapest one-way flight from London to Sydney in the next month is $1000 and involves stopovers in Poland, India and Singapore, according to Google Flights.
The cheapest direct one-way flight from LA to Sydney in the next month is $1479 on May 3.
The British government announced a STG75 million ($A153 million) package to help its own nationals return to the UK earlier this week.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said airlines should offer alternative flights “at little or no cost where routes have been cancelled” and allow passengers to change tickets between carriers at no additional cost, the BBC reported.
Senator Payne indicated the federal government could potentially fund charter flights to pick up Australians who are unable to access the four airports, particularly those stranded in South America and the Pacific Islands.
“We recognise that, in some cases, this will not be possible. We will continue to work closely with airlines and our overseas consular assistance network in these situations,” she said.
“Where there are no commercial options available, the Government will consider supporting, on a case-by-case basis, non-scheduled services to other overseas destinations.
“We are continuing our constructive discussions with Qantas and Virgin on flights to less accessible destinations, including South America and the Pacific.”