International travel is looking to be back on the board for Qantas, as the company’s CEO Alan Joyce announced they’re looking to resume flights by mid-December.
The only catch is that the company’s opting for countries with high vaccination rates, and it’ll also depend on “final decisions in the months ahead” from the Australian government. Right.
Joyce made the announcement in a speech about the company’s whopping $1.8 billion loss this year – with total revenue lost since the pandemic sitting around $16b and predicted to hit $20b by the end of 2021.
He also said that he’s been in talks with airline CEOs across the world, reaffirming what we already know: the rest of the world is opening back up as vaccination rates take effect.
“Australia now has a plan for re-opening,” Joyce said.
“Based on that plan, we’ve reshaped our own assumptions about restarting international flights. The nature of COVID means we’ve had to change our plans a couple of times already. And we can’t rule out having to move them again.
“But the current pace of the vaccine rollout means all Australian states are on track to reach the 80 per cent target by December – which is the trigger for starting to carefully open to some parts of the world.”
Joyce also recognised that the “emotional response” (read: everyone pissing tears) at the latest Qantas ad indicated to the company that the possibility of making travel plans again “might encourage even more people to get the jab.”
For the airline, carefully opening up to some parts of the world involves a staggered rollout of flights. If everything goes to plan, they’ve predicted that travel could resume to countries with high vax rates like Japan, Singapore, the US, the UK and hopefully New Zealand by mid-December.
Following that, Qantas predicts travel to countries with lower vax rates could restart from April 2022 at the earliest. Think places like Bali, Jakarta, Manila, and Johannesburg.
Joyce said that one of the biggest unknowns – and likely what could be the thing to dampen these plans – is the quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers either visiting or returning to Australia.
“If it’s 14 days in a hotel, demand levels will be very low,” he said.
“A shorter period with additional testing and the option to isolate at home will see a lot more people travel.”
Joyce confirmed that the federal government has agreed that these assumptions for international travel restarting are reasonable ones.
Hells bells, we might be on here, mates.