More than 600,000 half-price flights have been snapped up in just three weeks following the federal government’s $1.2 billion package to help tourism bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and entice more Aussies to ‘Holiday here this year’.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the mass uptake of bargain domestic holiday trips is a big win for the aviation industry, with domestic carriers “now doing a roaring trade”.
It’s only a shame Tigerair isn’t flying anymore.
“Australians are taking trips in large numbers with airlines reporting sales dwarfing previous records – our aviation industry is in a remarkable position compared to where it was just one year ago,” Mr McCormack said in a statement on Sunday.
“The proof is there in the sky today, as we see Qantas, Virgin, Rex and so many other smaller airlines flying proudly, carrying Australians to their dream holidays.”
The government last month announced its 800,000 half-priced flights initiative to a number of destinations across the country.
It was criticised at the time for choosing the locations of the discounted trips instead of allowing travellers to decide themselves and also by travel agents who were left off as a booking channel for the airfares.
The Qantas Group said recently it would be revising 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 are no significant border closures.
The national carrier says this is 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 new 2022 with Jetstar predicted to reach 120 per cent of pre-COVID levels, and Qantas to be at 107 per cent.
Virgin Australia also reported its biggest day on record for the sale of domestic flights following the release of ‘Half-Price’ fares on Thursday 1 April when the flights went on sale.
Reporting its biggest day of sales in its 20-year history, the newly rebooted airline said that 71,000 of the Government’s half-priced tickets were sold in the 24-hour period from 12:01am that day.
Around 85 per cent of fares were booked from May onwards with Virgin Australia saying that the record-breaking sales demonstrate renewed confidence and excitement to travel as Australians rushed to book forward travel.
However, Australian Tourism Industry Council spokesman Simon Westaway said the subsidised airfares were a good start, but also just one stepping stone needed to help the sector back onto its feet.
The industry lost about $90 billion last year due to the pandemic, with hospitality and accommodation jobs plunging into freefall.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan said on Sunday the government was making the right investments at the right time to help Australia’s economic recovery.
“More than seventy-five per cent of our half-priced tickets have been sold and the rest will go like hotcakes,” he said.
“My message to Australians is take advantage of this opportunity to book a cheap holiday through your travel agent and when you’re on holiday spend on a tourist activity and a night out to support tourism jobs and business.”
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