Despite reporting a significant financial loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Qantas has announced it plans to resume some international flights before Christmas.
The Qantas Group has released its financial year results, which show a $1.7 billion after tax loss and a statutory loss before tax of $2.35 billion. The national carrier says its total revenue loss has climbed to a staggering $16 billion, citing minimal international travel and series of domestic border closures as the reason.
Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce estimates that the impact of the pandemic will cost the airline more than $20 billion in revenue, saying that the trading conditions have been “diabolical”.
“This loss shows the impact that a full year of closed international borders and more than 330 days of domestic travel restrictions have had,” Joyce said.
Despite its 2020-21 Financial Year results, Qantas has revealed its plans to restart some of its international flights to “COVID-safe” destinations.
The airline is planning its gradual restart around the Government’s phased reopening of international borders, and feels optimistic that the current date of December 2021 is in reach, based on the pace of the vaccine rollout. Once Australia reaches its 80 percent vaccination threshold, the country is expected to enter into the third phase of the Government’s reopening plan, which will see the ban on international travel lifted.
“I know the prospect of flying overseas might feel a long way off—especially with New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown—and some might say we’re still being too optimistic.
But the current pace of the vaccine rollout means all Australian states are on track to reach the 80 percent target by December—which is the trigger for starting to carefully open to some parts of the world.”
Pending final government decisions, Qantas expects flights to countries with high vaccine rates, including Singapore, Japan, USA, the UK and hopefully New Zealand, to resume from mid-December. Destinations would expand to Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Hong Kong and Johannesburg from April 2022.
However, quarantine requirements for full vaccinated travellers entering Australia remain an uncertainty, with Joyce saying that if it’s 14 days in a hotel, demand will be very low.
“A shorter quarantine period with additional testing and the option to isolate at home will see a lot more people travel, but like many elements of this plan, it relies on decisions by the Australian Government.
We’re in regular discussion with the government and have shared our plans with them, and while they don’t have a crystal ball either, they agree our broad assumptions are reasonable.”