Qantas to step up international flights amid ‘massive demand’ from Australians
- The 11,000 inactive employees will return in early December
- To bring two A380s earlier, we can add three 787s
- Sydney-New Delhi route to launch on December 6
- Hopes to add more flights as rules in other states soften
SYDNEY, Oct. 22 (Reuters) – Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN.AX) on Friday said it would speed up plans to restart flights to many destinations and use larger planes amid “massive demand” for flights international as quarantine restrictions ease for Australian citizens.
The airline’s 11,000 inactive employees without pay, or about half of its workforce, will return to work in early December as domestic and international flights return to more normal levels, the airline said.
Qantas to bring back two of its flagship A380 Airbus SE (AIR.PA) super jumbos in April – three months ahead of schedule – and is in talks with Boeing Co (BA.N) over delivery of three new 787-9s in storage to speed up its international flight plans.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said that for four of the past five weeks, the airline’s international sales were stronger than domestic sales for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
“There is a massive demand for Australians who want to see their families and loved ones,” he told reporters. “There is a massive demand for loved ones who want to reunite for Christmas. There is a demand for people who want to take that vacation they have been eagerly awaiting for almost two years.”
The state of New South Wales, home to Sydney, said last week it would allow entry of fully vaccinated travelers from overseas from November 1 without the need for quarantine, though the easing Strict entry controls will initially benefit only citizens and permanent residents. .
Qantas has announced that it will launch a new route from Sydney to New Delhi on December 6 and present plans for flights to Singapore, Fiji, Johannesburg, Bangkok and Phuket due to the rule change in New South Wales.
The neighboring state of Victoria, home to Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, announced a similar policy on Friday from November 1.
Qantas has said it will bring the start of flights from Melbourne to London up to six weeks to November 6 and to Singapore from three weeks to November 22. He will consider advancing other destinations if possible.
Joyce said Qantas also hopes Indonesia will ease quarantine rules for Australians, allowing its low-cost branch Jetstar to start flights to Bali by Christmas.
“It will be at the start of the new year at the latest, I think, and we have planes ready to go,” he said.
For the airline to fully recover from its loss-making international activities, Australian rules will need to be relaxed further to allow international students, business travelers and tourists to enter the country.
Hong Kong and mainland China also maintained strict quarantine rules that prevented Qantas from resuming flights.
Reporting by Jamie Freed; edited by Edwina Gibbs and Richard Pullin
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