Today the Qantas Group, Australia's largest group of airlines comprising of Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar, announced it would be significantly increasing its domestic flying schedule throughout the month of June and into July thanks to the continued easing of coronavirus restrictions in Australia. This comes as welcome news for many airline employees, as well as holidaymakers eager to be back in the air and head off to their favourite holiday destinations.
Along with most other airlines around the globe, the Qantas Group was forced to wind down its flying activities to a bare minimum in the month of April 2020 due to the worldwide travel restrictions in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This included the complete cessation of international passenger flying activities and a 95 per cent reduction in Australian domestic passenger flying throughout both Qantas and Jetstar networks. However, the flying schedule did not stay this way for long after a boost came from the Australian government in the form of a subsidised Minimum Flying Schedule which allowed the airline group to maintain most of its domestic route network to a significantly reduced schedule.
Australia has had a large success in curbing the spread of coronavirus and thus has been quickly lifting restrictions in recent weeks, which has led to demand once again returning for domestic air travel throughout the country. Today, the Qantas Group responded to this demand by announcing Qantas and Jetstar would be increasing their flying schedules to 15 per cent of pre-coronavirus capacity in the month of June (up from 5 per cent currently being operated). This increase mounts to an extra 300 flights per week and will require the reactivation of several Qantas and Jetstar aircraft.
According to Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, the airline is seeing "a lot of pent up demand for air travel and we are already seeing a big increase in customers booking and planning flights in the weeks and months ahead." Joyce also confirmed that the airline stands ready to quickly increase its flying schedule to 40 per cent of its pre-coronavirus schedule in-time for the Australian school holidays in July should further interstate travel restrictions be lifted. He also added that "the Australian Government’s medical experts have said the risk of contracting coronavirus on an aircraft is low."
The newly increased flying schedule will see increases on popular capital city routes like Melbourne to Sydney, as well as the many flights stemming out of Australia's capital Canberra. The airline also reinforced its commitment to regional Australia through its subsidiary QantasLink by announcing that intrastate flights throughout Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia would all see healthy increases.
However, due to the continued closure of the Australian borders the majority of the Qantas international network is expected to unfortunately remain grounded like many other airlines around the globe, until at least August, with the exception of cargo flying and repatriation flights.