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Qantas Bookings Surge as Australia Reopens


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Chief executive says carrier took almost 500,000 domestic bookings in past two weeks, compared with 20,000 over a fortnight in August


Qantas
The move sets the airline up for a high-profile union battle at a time when it also needs to reach agreements with short-haul crew for it to seal the business case for a major Airbus SE narrow-body aircraft order. Photo: Reuters.

 

Qantas, the Australian flag carrier, reported the rate of bookings in the past two weeks had increased 25 times since August, as Australia began to ease domestic travel restrictions between states.

Australia’s two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, reopened borders after hitting major milestones in Covid-19 vaccination rates, prompting a flurry of travel.

Speaking at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, Alan Joyce, chief executive, said that the company had received almost 500,000 domestic bookings in the past two weeks, compared with about 20,000 over a fortnight in August.

“A return to scale is good news for all customers, because it means we can reopen lounges and bring more aircraft back into service,” Joyce said.

This month, Australia also partially reopened its international borders to vaccinated citizens, permanent residents and their families.

On November 1, QF12 from Los Angeles touched down in Sydney with no border or quarantine restrictions for incoming passengers who were fully vaccinated. It was the first quarantine-free scheduled international flight to arrive in Australia in nearly 600 days.

QF1 from Sydney to London via Darwin also left that day in the first such departure since the pandemic.

Qantas had previously flown hundreds of government repatriation flights during the pandemic, and operated under a temporary border bubble arrangement with New Zealand earlier this year.

Joyce said in October that 11,000 furloughed workers would return to their jobs in early December, six months ahead of schedule. Qantas cut 6,000 workers as early as June last year.

All passengers on Qantas international flights are required to be fully vaccinated, unless they are under 12 years old, are 12-17 year olds travelling to Australia with their family or guardian or have an exemption.

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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