First, it was July. Now, Qantas is set on recommencing international flights in October.
Australia’s border dilemma has been fraught with controversy, disagreement and an ever-growing number of changing strategies. Now, as the country’s vaccine rollout starts to pick-up momentum, Qantas have revised their timeline for the restart of international flights: 31st October 2021.
Capacity will be lower than pre-COVID levels, with frequencies and aircraft type deployed on each route in line with the projected recovery of international flying. But what will Qantas look like around the world? in an era of uncertainty and reduced demand?
Qantas is currently aiming to reactivate all 11 of their Boeing 787-9 aircraft for the relaunch. CEO Alan Joyce noted that a “number of them have already been reactivated” as part of the Australian Government repatriation flight program.
Moving forward, Qantas will return to flying their entire fleet of Airbus A330s, which will remain on routes into Asia, New Zealand and some high-demand domestic services.
“You’ll see things like the double daily to London come back in again, hopefully, but with smaller aircraft.”
European services will be switched solely to the Boeing 787; including the direct Perth-London, as well as replacing the A380 on the Sydney-Singapore-London route.
“The A380s, we think, will be grounded for three years, because the demand won’t be there and we won’t be in a position to be able to justify those aircraft coming back in.”
Moving into the 2022 fiscal year, Mr Joyce said that Qantas is forecasting that international capacity will be at just 40%; leaving the future uncertain for many of the 7500 Qantas workers stood-down until, at the least, Australia’s border reopens.
Will This be a Qantas 2.0?
Australia’s airline industry has emerged from the sweeping interstate border closures as a comparatively fiercer, more competitive battleground. Newcomer Rex and a completely overhauled Virgin Australia have forced Qantas to drop their fares, as well as pushing to retain their budget subsidiary Jetstar’s position as a household name for cheap travel in Australia.
However, the almost complete cessation of mid to long-haul Virgin Australia flights, and a large reduction in international airline routes from external carriers, has, to some extent, offered an increased market share for Qantas.
Alan Joyce dismissed an urgency to make profits, saying that his airline’s whole philosophy is to “get aircraft into the air and cover cash costs”.
“The airfares are going to be very attractive, going forward… So this is going to be a great time for consumers, it needs to be. We need to get people back in the air travelling again.”Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas
Qantas is planning to resume flights to 22 of their 25 pre-COVID international destinations, from 31st October 2021, including:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Hong Kong
- Tokyo (Haneda)
- Tokyo (Narita)
- Port Moresby
Qantas won’t initially be resuming direct flights to New York, Santiago and Osaka, but they remain “committed to flying to these three destinations”. In the meantime, customers will be able to fly to these destinations under codeshare or oneworld arrangements with partner airlines.