Qantas expects to restore more than 90 percent of its domestic capacity by the end of this year, and the carrier in a Thursday financial update reported the return of a majority of business travel demand.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said that corporate travel and small business travel have reached about 65 percent of pre-Covid-19 levels and continue to increase every month. The carrier also reports “extremely strong leisure demand,” boosted by a recent federal government stimulus program offering half-price fares on domestic flights and a recently announced “trans-Tasman bubble” enabling travel to New Zealand.
“We’re now seeing really positive signs of sustained recovery,” according to Joyce. “This is the longest run of relative stability we’ve had with domestic borders for over a year, and it’s reflected in the strong travel demand we saw over Easter and the forward bookings that are flowing in each week from all parts of the market.”
International travel beyond New Zealand is slated to restart in late October. Joyce said that restart is dependent on Australia’s vaccination program, which has hit some “speedbumps,” and that timing could still be pushed back—or moved up—depending on vaccination progress.
By the fourth quarter, Qantas expects that 90 percent of its aircraft will be active, compared with only a quarter during the height of the pandemic last year. On domestic routes, Qantas and Jetstar plan to have even more aircraft operating than they did prior to the pandemic.
Despite the positive demand signs, Qantas will continue to face a difficult financial outlook until international borders open, Joyce said.
“We are still facing a massive financial loss this year, which will be the second one in a row,” according to Joyce. “We’ve lost more than $11 billion in revenue since the pandemic started, and that number will keep growing until international travel recovers.”