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Qantas Shifts October Restart To December For International Flights

Yesterday's budget saw the Federal Government revise its anticipated timeline for the completion of Australia’s vaccine rollout to end-2021 and its timeline for significantly reopening our international borders move forward to mid-2022.

Yesterday’s budget saw the Federal Government revise its anticipated timeline for the completion of Australia’s vaccine rollout to end-2021 and its timeline for significantly reopening our international borders move forward to mid-2022.

In light of these two new timelines, the Qantas Group says it will adjust its planned international flights from end-October 2021 to a still seemingly optimistic late December 2021.

Note: Trans-Tasman flights on Qantas and Jetstar remain unchanged.

In the meantime, the Group says it will continue to provide critical repatriation and freight flights overseas and support the recovery of travel at home.

Only a month ago, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce had said “The vaccination program is absolutely key to restarting international flights in and out of Australia. While there have clearly been some speedbumps with the vaccine rollout, we are still planning for international flights to resume in late October. We remain in regular dialogue with the Government.”

Despite the latest setback, the national carrier says it remains optimistic that additional bubbles will open once Australia’s vaccine rollout is complete to countries who, by then, are in a similar position, but that it is difficult to predict which ones at this stage.

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Singapore anyone?

This planning assumption the Qantas Group says will allow the airline – and Australia “to be ready to take advantage of pockets of tourism and trade opportunity as they emerge in a post-COVID world.”

Fortunately, at least for the Qantas Group, as part of the Federal Government tourism and aviation support package announced in March, around 7500 Qantas and Jetstar airline employees stood down due to international border closures receive a seven-month extension of essentially JobKeeper until the end of October.

The generous government package for Australian airlines also includes support to cover and activate aircraft including A330s, Boeing 787s and 737s through training for pilots and crews to ensure their safe and speedy return to service as capacity scales up and borders reopen.

It was reported at the time that the 7500 workers from Qantas Group international operations would be paid $500 per week with the outgoing cost of the federal government payments over seven months running to around an estimated $112 million alone.

The historic first Perth to London direct flight

Given worldwide international travel is parked, for now, the airline says that the resurgence of domestic travel remains the most important element of Its recovery.

The Qantas Group had recently said it had revised its 80 per cent estimate of its pre-COVID domestic capacity for April-June and is now expecting this to be beyond 90 per cent, provided there were no significant border closures.

The national carrier says this is all due to strong leisure demand helped by the Federal Government’s half-price fare offer and the return of the majority of corporate and small to medium business travel.

And the domestic capacity bounce is set to continue rising into the financial year 2022, with Jetstar forecasted to reach 120 per cent of pre-COVID levels, and Qantas to be at 107 per cent.

Trans-Tasman

Trans-Tasman bubble wise, flight bookings for the first few weeks of travel have been stronger out of Australia than New Zealand, with capacity reduced to reflect demand patterns seen during the short two-week booking period.

From late May, Qantas has added more trans-Tasman flights to fill gaps left in the market and meet expected demand over the ski season.

Qantas says they will reach out directly to any customers with an international booking between 31 October 2021 and 19 December 2021, however recent levels of uncertainty meant international booking levels were relatively low aside from Trans Tasman flights which remain unaffected.

The airline also noted that they will will keep reviewing these plans as we move towards December and circumstances evolve.

Find out more: www.qantas.com.au