Qantas and Jetstar are now planning to restart regular international passenger flights to most destinations from 31 October 2021 – a four month extension from the previous estimate of July, which had been in place since mid-2020.
The date change aligns with the expected timeframe for Australia’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout to be effectively complete.
International capacity won’t fully recover until 2024
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. International capacity is not expected to fully recover until 2024.
“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,” the airlines said in a statement.
“Qantas is 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 [current] international repatriation flights.”
New York and Osaka are among the cities to miss out
According to Qantas, it is planning to resume flights to 22 of its 25 pre-Covid international destinations – including Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Johannesburg from 31 October.
It won’t initially resume direct flights to New York, Santiago and Osaka, but remains committed to flying to these three destinations. In the meantime, customers will be able to fly to these cities under codeshare or other arrangements with partner airlines.
Jetstar said it intends to resume flights to all of its 13 international destinations. Frequencies will be adjusted in line with the projected recovery of international flying.
Significant increase in New Zealand flights are planned
Both airlines are planning for a significant increase in flights to and from New Zealand from 1 July 2021.
Qantas has also announced additional flexibility for international bookings, as a way to enable customers to book flights with greater confidence.
The airline’s Fly Flexible policy – previously only available for domestic and Trans-Tasman flights – now applies to international flights booked until at least the end of April 2021.
Group announces a loss of more than one-billion dollars
Meanwhile, Qantas has suffered a billion dollar-plus loss in profits in the first half of its trading year due to the impact of the pandemic on domestic and overseas travel.
Releasing the financial results yesterday (Thursday), Group CEO Alan Joyce said the results were “stark but not surprising”.
“Virtually all of our international flying and 70 percent of domestic flying stopped, and with it went three-quarters of our revenue,” he said.