Qantas boss Alan Joyce says Australia’s vaccine rollout feels like it’s moving slower than it should and higher rates of take-up may allow borders to open by the end of the year.
Alan Joyce is calling for extra effort to encourage COVID-19 jabs while discussing Thursday’s news of voluntary redundancy for Qantas international cabin crew and a two-year wage freeze for employees.
The airline boss said authorities had done a great job keeping Australians safe during the pandemic.
“Imagine if we put the same focus on the vaccine rollout,” he told a media conference.
“Opening by the end of the year seems very achievable under those circumstances.”
What’s going on with international borders?
The Morrison government has been reluctant to give a timeframe for vaccinations, meaning uncertainty remains around the international border reopening.
Budget papers use a mid-2022 re-opening timeframe, but there are still no guarantees.
Some business leaders and those with loved ones overseas say vaccine delivery should be hastened to open the borders earlier, and the Qantas boss shares a similar view.
“We need to make sure we encourage as many people as possible to take the vaccine and make sure we don’t get to a stage of dosage wastage,” he said. The rollout “feels like it’s slower than it should be”.
“There is a lot more work to do on vaccinations to complete the program by the end of the year.”
More than 3.2 million Australians have now received a COVID-19 vaccination, with the daily pace of the rollout increasing as the program expands.
Qantas expecting $2b loss
On Thursday Qantas released its FY21 market update, announcing the forecast of a statutory loss of more than $2 million before tax this financial year as international travel remains scarce due to the coronavirus.
As part of the Group’s recovery strategy, some Qantas international cabin crew will be offered voluntary redundancy and there will also be a two-year wage freeze, with management subjected to these same wage conditions.
The Group also confirmed that as part of reducing its costs of sale, it would slash the front-end commissions paid to travel agents on international tickets from 5 per cent to 1 per cent, which has left some travel agents disappointed and abandoned.
“We have a long way still to go in this recovery but it does feel like we’re slowly starting to turn the corner,” Alan Joyce said.
Encouragingly for the airline, Australians are flying domestically at near pre-COVID levels, while trans-Tasman routes are at 60 per cent.
Domestic travel has helped Qantas forecast underlying earnings of between $400 million and $450 million this financial year.
Mr Joyce said Qantas had started to repay some of the debt it took on to help the company get through the pandemic.
“We’ve adjusted our expectations for when international borders will start opening based on the government’s new timeline.
“But our fundamental assumption remains the same – that once the national vaccine rollout is effectively complete, Australia can and should open up.”
When do you think the international border will reopen? Do you have family overseas? How do you feel about the situation? Let us know – email firstname.lastname@example.org
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