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Qantas expects flights to Singapore, the US, Japan and the UK to resume from mid-December, while flights to Bali and Thailand will resume in April next year, the airline has revealed.
The Flying Kangaroo outlined its planned restart to international travel on Thursday while posting its full year results. Qantas recorded a $1.8 billion loss following a year defined by “frankly… diabolical” trading conditions, CEO Alan Joyce said.
However, as the domestic and international vaccine rollout gathers pace, Qantas has its eye firmly set on reopening international travel.
Pending National Cabinet’s phased reopening of borders, Qantas said it will initially focus on resuming flights to highly vaccinated destinations including North America, Singapore, Japan and the UK from December 2021.
WATCH: New Qantas ad has Aussies dreaming of travel.
By mid-2022, Qantas plans to return five A380s to its fleet to service the Los Angeles and London routes.
It will take longer for flights to Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg to resume, due to their lower vaccination rates. Qantas expects these flights to resume from April 2022.
And this all hinges on Australia hitting its 80 per cent vaccination rate by December, Qantas said. Currently 25.14 per cent of the Australian population is fully vaccinated, with projections suggesting 80 per cent will be fully vaccinated by December.
Qantas plans: Key dates
Flights to Singapore, the US, Canada, UK Fiji and Japan reopen.
Flights to New Zealand will resume, provided the two-way bubble restarts.
Flights to the UK may be routed through Darwin, if the Western Australian government’s “conservative” approach to its borders limits Perth’s use as a transit hub.
Flights to Hong Kong resume.
Qantas reopens the remainder of its international Qantas and Jetstar network.
“The prospect of flying overseas might feel a long way off, especially with New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown, but the current pace of the vaccine rollout means we should have a lot more freedom in a few months’ time,” Joyce said.
“It’s obviously up to Government exactly how and when our international borders reopen, but with Australia on track to meet the 80 per cent trigger agreed by National Cabinet by the end of the year, we need to plan ahead for what is a complex restart process.”
The airline can and will adjust its plans if it’s forced to, he added. The airline has already been forced to amend its international travel itinerary several times as the Delta COVID-19 strain reshaped the global pandemic.
“Some people might say we’re being too optimistic, but based on the pace of the vaccine rollout, this is within reach and we want to make sure we’re ready,” Joyce said.
Pandemic cost Qantas more than $20 billion
“By the end of this calendar year, it’s likely COVID will cost us more than $20 billion in revenue,” he said.
“We’ve had to make a lot of big and difficult structural changes to deal with this crisis, and that phase is mostly behind us. As a result we’re geared to recover quickly, in-line with a national vaccine rollout that is speeding up.”
That’s largely due to a $12 billion revenue impact over the 2021 financial year.
Joyce said times “remain tough” for Qantas staff, with thousands still stood down due to the prolonged international and border closures.
“Our focus is getting them back to work as soon as possible, which is why we were ramping up our flying and adding new destinations before the most recent lockdowns,” he said.
“Despite the uncertainty that’s still in front of us, we’re in a far better position to manage it than this time last year. We’re able to move quickly when borders open and close. We’re a leaner and more efficient organisation. And our requirement for all employees to be vaccinated will create a safer environment for our people and customers.”