The government isn't ready to the announce international arrivals are safe, but that hasn't stopped Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce from resuming ticket sales, including on US and UK routes.
The airline's decision to reopen bookings for July 1 onwards sparked a rebuke from Transport Minister Michael McCormack.
International borders will be opened when international arrivals no longer pose a risk to Australians, the deputy prime minister said on Tuesday, referring to the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks from new arrivals.
"Decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian government," Mr McCormack said.
Negotiations with destinations that have low community infections, such as New Zealand, were underway but are now under a cloud with recent outbreaks in Australia's largest city for international flights.
The health and safety of Australians was the government's top priority, Mr McCormack said, while operations and ticket sales on routes were commercial decisions for airlines.
Qantas has brought forward international ticket sales for destinations including the US and UK despite growing coronavirus rates overseas.
As vaccines roll out across the world, tickets have gone on sale for as early as July.
Sales had been suspended until October this year, after the airline giant's chief executive Alan Joyce said it was unlikely international travel would go ahead at all this year.
"Recently we have aligned the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021," a spokesman told AAP on Tuesday.
While tickets are on sale, the airline says the resumption of international flying will still be subject to vaccine rollouts and border rules.
Qantas had already started selling some international flights to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore from March.
Those plans have now been pushed back to October in line with the July 1 start date for the US and UK.
It's not the first time in this pandemic that Mr Joyce has caught the government off-guard with an announcement. In November, the Qantas CEO said a vaccine requirement was "non-negotiable" international travel.