2021 continues to be speculated as ‘The year of the bubble’ when it comes to outbound travel from Australia, with Qantas talking up more direct flights to Asian and South Pacific nations at their annual general meeting this morning.
Addressing shareholders at the airline’s 100th year annual general meeting (AGM) and its first-ever virtual edition, Qantas Group chairman Richard Goyder opened the proceedings today in Perth by saying “A lot of effort has gone into making this virtual AGM format work. But, needless to say, it’s not as good as all being in the same room,”
“It’s also a symptom of the travel restrictions and border closures that continue to have a huge impact on the Qantas Group.” He continued.
Mr Goyder went on to reflect on the recent events that have significantly impacted the group since March including ‘cascading domestic and international border closures’ and revenue falling by $4 billion from April – June alone.
The consequent COVID-fallout has already seen 6,000 Qantas Group staff members leave the business with a further 18,000 still stood down and a review of 2,000-plus roles in ground handling underway. And let’s not talk about the Group’s worst-ever end of financial year results.
“Both Qantas and Jetstar are keeping a close eye on new markets that might open up as a result of these bubbles – including places that weren’t part of our pre-COVID network. By early next year, we may find that Korea, Taiwan and various islands in the Pacific are top Qantas destinations while we wait for our core international markets like the US and UK to re-open.”
“We’re already doing this domestically – adding new destinations that suddenly make sense – and it’s the kind of flexibility we need to make the most of any cash-positive opportunities in the year ahead.” He said.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce spoke of the airline’s ‘need for reinvention’ in his section of the AGM saying “What has become crystal clear is that the Qantas Group after COVID has to be structurally different to the Qantas Group before COVID.”
There was a positive mention for travel agents too from Mr Joyce as part of the plan, who was clearly aware of the important role the trade will have to play in the group’s survival and revival.
“We’re renegotiating our arrangements with travel agents, which will create better selling opportunities for the trade and significantly reduce our cost of sale.”
Alan Joyce, CEO Qantas Group
Domestic travel was naturally a major focus with both Mr Joyce and Goyder speaking in detail of their hope for state border closures to be relaxed.
“Assuming Queensland opens to New South Wales in coming weeks, we expect Group Domestic capacity to reach up to 50 per cent by Christmas.” Said Mr Joyce.
“We know that latent travel demand is strong. We saw that with our ‘scenic flight’ earlier this month, which sold out in 10 minutes. And we saw it when South Australia opened to New South Wales, with 20,000 seats selling across Qantas and Jetstar in just 36 hours.
“With most international travel off-limits for a while, we’re expecting to see a boom in domestic tourism once more borders open up. The Group is very well positioned to make the most of that opportunity.” He said.
While realistic and thankful of how Australia has faired as a nation through the pandemic compared to that of the rest of the world, Mr Joyce was keen to remind shareholders that the journey to a post-COVID destination would still be a very long and difficult one.
“There is no doubt we’re in the middle of the toughest period the national carrier has ever faced.” Said Mr Joyce.
“We will come through this crisis more efficient and more focused – ready to take advantage of the opportunities on the other side,
“With your continued support, we look forward to embarking on the next 100 years of Qantas.” Mr Joyce concluded.
Concluding his AGM address, My Goyder said “One phrase I’ve heard a lot since joining the Board is that Qantas always shines in a crisis,
“At an operational level, we’ve seen over 100 repatriation missions to bring Australians home from COVID hotspots around the world. The latest one, from London, is due to land shortly. All flown by crew who volunteer. All handled extremely safely. The national carrier at its absolute best.”
Read Qantas Group chairman Richard Goyders address in full here.
Read Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce’s address in full here.
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