After announcing a loss of $1.1 billion in the first half of the 2021 fiscal year, the Qantas group delayed expectations on when it will resume international services. Only 2 months ago Qantas announced plans to start international services by June 2021.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce described the figures as “stark, but not surprising”.
“During the half, we saw the second wave in Victoria and the strictest domestic travel restrictions since the pandemic began,” he said.
“Virtually all of our international flying and 70 per cent of domestic flying stopped, and with it went three-quarters of our revenue.
Joyce said Qantas’ $4.2 billion of liquidity the group “breathing room to deal with the levels of uncertainty we’re still facing, and funding for the restructuring that will ultimately speed up our recovery”.
Qantas and Jetstar are now planning to resume international travel in late October after the Australian population is vaccinated for COVID-19, the airline’s chief executive said on Thursday.
But there has been a huge surge in COVID-19 cases around the world since those July flights went on sale in early January, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said. There were also new coronavirus variants emerging.
Those tickets sold for flights after July 1 and before Oct. 31 are being refunded.
“We are now planning for international travel to restart at the end of October this year in line with the day for Australia’s vaccine rollout to be effectively complete,” Joyce said.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
“The group remains in close consultation with the federal government around the reopening of international borders and will keep customers updated if further adjustments are required.”
Qantas said it was assessing the use of digital health pass apps to help support the resumption of COVID-safe international travel.
“The CommonPass and IATA Travel Pass smartphone apps are being trialled on the airline’s international repatriation flights,” it said.
However, Qantas and Jetstar are planning for a “significant increase” in flights to and from New Zealand from 1 July 2021.
Australia’s immunization program began this week. The government expects the vaccine will be made available to anyone who wants it by October.
But Australia plans to administer a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine 12 weeks after the first. The wait between doses of the Pfizer product is only 3-to-4 weeks. So some of those taking AstraZeneca might not be effectively vaccinated by the end of October.
Qantas still expected a “material increase” in flights between Australia and New Zealand by July, Joyce said.
The government would have final say on the resumption of international travel and would consider issues including the effectiveness of vaccines on reducing virus transmission.
Written by Joe Cusmano