Air carriers Qantas and Jetstar are recommencing with regional and interstate flights this month and will increase flights in July if the demand is there. In particular, the airlines hope that there will be greater demand over the July school holidays if state border restrictions have eased by then.
Around 300 return flights should be operational by the end of June. The additional services will see capacity increase from 5% of pre-coronavirus levels now, to 15% by the end of June.
Among the flights that will increase is the Sydney to Melbourne route on Qantas, which will rise from five flights a week now to 46 flights a week. On Jetstar, the route will increase from seven flights a week now to 21 flights a week.
More intra-state flights on the cards
There are increased intra-state flights for Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. Broome, Cairns and Rockhampton will see a significant boost in weekly flights.
Flights will resume on eight routes not currently being operated by the airlines. In addition, Qantas will commence flights from Sydney to Byron Bay (Ballina) after the original route launch was postponed due to the coronavirus.
Lots of pent-up demand, says CEO
“We know there is a lot of pent-up demand for air travel and we are already seeing a big increase in customers booking and planning flights in the weeks and months ahead,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said.
“We are gradually adding flights in June as demand levels increase, which will go from 5% of pre-crisis levels currently to 15% by late June. We can quickly ramp up flying in time for the July school holidays if border restrictions have eased more by then.
“Normally, we plan our capacity months in advance, but in the current climate we need to be flexible to respond to changing restrictions and demand levels.”
Boost for communities relying on tourism
Joyce added that the one million people who work in tourism around Australia have been hurting in recent months. These additional flights would be an important first step to help get more people out into communities that rely on tourism and bring a much-needed boost to local businesses.
“Customers will notice a number of differences when they fly, such as masks and sanitising wipes, and we’ll be sending out information before their flight so they know exactly what to expect and have some extra peace of mind,” Joyce noted.
“Importantly, the Australian government’s medical experts have said the risk of contracting coronavirus on an aircraft is low.”