Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) has wasted no time ramping up its operations after Queensland announced a reopening of its border.
The Queensland Government revealed Tuesday it would allow travellers from NSW to enter without a mandatory COVID-19 14-day quarantine period from Tuesday 1 December.
Qantas and its budget brand Jetstar then announced 207 return flights per week between NSW and Queensland would be added from that day. Another 153 would be added between Victoria and Queensland if that border is also reopened.
“This is news that many families have been waiting so long to hear,” said Qantas chief Alan Joyce.
“New South Wales and Victoria have done such a great job getting the virus under control that it makes complete sense to open the borders to Sydney and Melbourne.”
Currently there are just 36 flights operating out of Sydney into Queensland and 4 from Newcastle. Just 2 weekly flights run between Melbourne and Townsville as the only route between the two states.
The additional Queensland flights are another step in the airline’s comeback from coronavirus hibernation. Only on Monday Qantas started a further 272 weekly flights between NSW and Victoria as soon as that border was reopened.
Has Qantas found a way out of hibernation?
The new flights will mean by Christmas the airline’s domestic operations will be back to 60% of pre-COVID levels. Early next month, 30 of the 35 domestic airport lounges will also have reopened.
The market was pleased for Qantas, pushing its shares up 3.54% to trade at $5.56 as of 2.09 pm AEDT.
Joyce said there is already massive demand for travel to Queensland.
“We can’t wait to see a repeat of the heart-warming scenes in Melbourne and Sydney this week with families reuniting after months apart, this time in Queensland,” he said.
“Queenslanders can expect to welcome a lot more visitors in the next few months.”
|Airline||Route||Weekly return flights from 1 Dec||Lead-in one-way fare|
|Jetstar||Melbourne Avalon-Gold Coast||4||$99|
|Source: Qantas; Table created by author|
The country now needs the certainty of interstate borders remaining open, said the aviation chief, and trust testing and contact tracing systems for any spot outbreaks.
“We renew our calls for a consistent set of rules that apply nationwide to prevent hasty, patchwork decisions on borders being made.”
International flights are still a way off, although the early success of 3 COVID vaccines has given the aviation industry hope.
On Monday, Joyce told a television show that Qantas would make vaccination compulsory for overseas flights.
“Talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe, I think it’s going to be a common theme,” he said.
“What we’re looking at is how you can have a vaccination passport, an electronic version of it, that certifies what the vaccine is. Is it acceptable to the country that you’re travelling to?”