Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) hasn’t mucked around putting on a massive volume of flights for the New South Wales-Victoria border reopening.
On Wednesday, the NSW government announced the border with its southern neighbour would be reopened on 23 November. From that date, travellers between the states no longer need to quarantine.
After ASX trading closed yesterday, the airline revealed how it would take advantage.
As soon as the border opens, Qantas and its budget brand, Jetstar, will operate 272 flights each week between the states, equating to 48,000 seats. A further 10 flights will be added on 7 December.
The new flights will ferry passengers between Melbourne, Sydney, Ballina, Mildura, Newcastle and Bendigo.
Currently, with COVID-19 border closures in place, Sydney-Melbourne is the only route operating between Australia’s most populous states — with only 10 flights per week.
Before the pandemic, the Sydney-Melbourne route was the second most popular flight path in the world, with only Seoul-Jeju busier.
Qantas domestic and international chief, Andrew David, said the border opening was “fantastic news”.
“November 23 will be a day many people will now be looking forward to. It’s exciting for the family and friends who can finally be reunited after months apart,” he said.
“It’s also great for businesses, and great for getting more of our planes in the air and more of our people back to work.”
|Airline||Route||Weekly return flights from 23 Nov||Lead-in one-way fare|
|Qantas||Bendigo-Sydney||5 (from 7 Dec)||From $199|
Flying is back, but still not to pre-COVID levels
The restored level of 282 flights is still nowhere near the airline’s pre-coronavirus levels.
“On a busy day, Qantas and Jetstar would operate more than 100 flights per day between New South Wales and Victoria,” said David.
“During the lockdown, our schedule reduced to as low as one flight a day.”
The Qantas share price had already rocketed 2.24% upwards on Wednesday after the border opening was announced, to hit $4.57.
David praised the NSW government for reopening to Victoria, while criticising the insular attitude of some other states.
“New South Wales has led the way in taking a sensible, risk-based approach to borders that’s supported by what is probably one of the best contact tracing programs in the world,” he said.
“Queensland and Western Australia are unfortunately taking a different approach, which doesn’t seem based on a realistic assessment of risk.”