Qantas could run at 50% capacity in July, says Joyce

written by Adam Thorn | May 20, 2020
VH-OQA rotates from Melbourne Airport Qantas A380
A Qantas A380 departs from Melbourne Airport (Dave Soda)

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said his airline could “easily” be operating up to 50 per cent capacity in July “if demand is there”.

Joyce also reiterated an earlier pledge to offer $19 fares between Sydney and Melbourne when recreational flights resume in mid-winter, and defended his decision to not enforce social distancing on planes.

Speaking to Nine’s Today program, Joyce said, “We don’t think we’ll go back to 100 per cent honestly in July but we have the capability to easily add 40 to 50 per cent of the capacity that we had before COVID-19 in that month and then a ramp up even further every other month.”

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The views came across in one of two interviews conducted in the last 24 hours, used to publicise the airline’s earlier-announced coronavirus passenger plan.

On a separate appearance on RN Breakfast, Joyce defended Qantas’ decision not to keep the middle seat free, but instead provide all passengers with masks.

He said enforcing social distancing onboard would be “uneconomical” and would lead to hikes in airfares.

“It’s not social distancing, it’s a 60-centimetre difference between two people,” Joyce said.

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He added the already announced measures would be enough to protect passengers: “Because the cabin’s pressurised, 99.9 per cent of all viruses, all bacteria, are filtered through medical-grade filters, they are usually in operating theatres and the air is extracted every five minutes from the cabin.

“With the cabin, with the measures we’re introducing, the masks, the sanitisers for people to wipe down, the extra cleaning we’re doing ourselves, hand sanitisers all the way through the terminals, we’re very comfortable you don’t need social distancing on an aircraft.”

In another development on Wednesday morning, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt hinted that Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy backed Qantas’ stance.

On Tuesday, Qantas and Jetstar unveiled what it’s terming a “Fly Well” program of “wellbeing improvements” based on “best-practice medical advice” and customer feedback.

Qantas medical director, Dr Ian Hosegood, said then, “Social distancing on an aircraft isn’t practical the way it is on the ground, and given the low transmission risk on board, we don’t believe it’s necessary in order to be safe.”

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30 Comments

  • Edward

    says:

    Can’t wait to get on a QANTAS aircraft, & fly, fly, fly! (Domestically at first!)

    The big ‘White ‘Roo’ taking to the skies again!

    • Jill

      says:

      You mean the big red rat !

      • Edward

        says:

        The colour of the ‘Roo on QANTAS aircraft empennage is WHITE!
        I’ve never heard it referred to with the derogatory term of ‘red rat’.

        It’s been called ‘the big WHITE rat’, in the past, mostly by those citizens’ overseas’ who are ignorant of what a kangaroo is.

  • Kim

    says:

    2 Choices here

    1- instead of pay say $ 200 for your flight some where. You pay $400.
    Then you can whinge about price.

    2- Vote with with your wallet and don’t go on the plane

    At least they told you before you get on flight

    Your choice. So stop the whinging

  • Kim

    says:

    Last trip we did in Qantas A380 travelling Premium Economy there were no hand wipes supplied with snacks or meals. On the onward flight with Emirates in Economy, hand wipes were supplied. I hope Mr Joyce will supply hand wipes in future to all pax.

    • Tinai

      says:

      Dear Kim.

      Just how much do you expect Qantas to do? How much does the public expect the company to do. Bring YOUR OWN wipes! If you are old enough to travel you are old enough to pack your own wipes. It never ceases to amaze me how the public think buying an airline ticket makes us their parent or carer! It never ceases to amaze me how parents don’t pack extra snacks for their own children!
      I say GROW UP. Take charge of your own needs or DON’T travel! It’s the job of any airline to get you safely from A to B. Apart from that? Wipe you own behind!!

      • Miti

        says:

        Dear Tinai,

        I think I’ll wipe my own behind next time I fly Qantas. But Kim you are right – Qantas has lowered it’s standard of inflight service supplies to the point that we have to bring our own napkins to wipe our hands after a meal service.

      • Jack

        says:

        Tinai, you’re quite correct!

        I spent my career in International Airlines, including QANTAS.
        It never ceased to amazed me how ‘stupid’ passengers’ were! Many of them should never leave their own backyard! I always thought I’d hate to be in an aircraft emergency situation, heaven forbid, surrounded by these numpties, who had base intelligence, & would be all for themselves, stuff everybody else.
        This ‘breed’ of people, arose out of LCC’s coming into existence; carriers’ which eventually collapsed, due bad management et al, & the people who had money, wouldn’t fly with them.

        Mostly, they refused to take responsibility for their own actions’ eg ‘your computer changed my booking’….really, it needs a human hand to type in the information, BTW.
        And again ‘I forgot my Passport’. Oh dear!

        The ‘Golden Age’ of air travel was in the ‘70’s, with the beautiful Boeing 747! In those times’, people were well-mannered, appreciated your help, & didn’t constantly argue with you, rudely swear at you, & generally be abusive towards you, purely for doing your job.

        Air travel has always been the most wanted advantage, but now that world, & ours’, has changed irrevocably, & airlines’ must adapt to it, or cease to exist.

        • Bill O'Really?

          says:

          Jack and Tinai,

          What a couple of self righteous, conceited chaps you are, in your little aggressive, patronising view of your fellow humanity. Have a wonderful time in Anger ville and enjoy your FIGJAM while you whine about others and hanker for the past. Cheers Peter Perfects.

        • Dave

          says:

          Jack, pretty sure ‘stupid’ people have been around a lot longer than LCCs!!
          At least now they can blame airlines as well as local councils!!

      • Mike

        says:

        Even before I read Tinai’s reply to Kim’s comments, my thoughts were, “Bring your own hand wipes!”
        I have done so for years, whether flying, eating at a cafe or wherever there isn’t a sink and running water available.
        In this and various other posts about post-Covid flying it beggars belief that so many want the airline to be their nanny. Be adults, think and plan ahead and be prepared.
        Nobody is forcing anyone to fly! If you decide to fly, then prepare for the trip.
        I am so looking forward to the time when we can travel again. It will be wonderful.
        In the meantime I have plenty of time to put together a travel check list;
        1. pack of hand wipes and sanitiser,
        2. a book,
        3. mobile phone,
        4. camera….
        Excited thinking about flying again!!! : )

  • Bargibant

    says:

    Cannot wait to see our favorite kangooroo in the Sky , specially on international flights

    • Miti

      says:

      I agree and as Tinai mentioned in her response to Kim, just to take me from Point A to B. No expectations apart from that.

    • Linda Weaving

      says:

      With hundreds of thousands still dying in Europe, Asia & the USA, do you really think that’s wise?

  • Bob

    says:

    Kim, you’ll find those Emirates hand wipes given were not alcohol sanitised wipes and useless against covid-19 and many other viruses

    • Miti

      says:

      Dear Bob,

      Both you and Tinai need to just do one thing! Fly Emirates – as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating!! Wipes of any kind you will find Emirates 110% better than Qantas and I am sad to write this but it’s a fact. 30 years ago I would be on your side by in 2020 NO WAY !!!!

  • Tinai

    says:

    Mroko. Keep in mind that expectations of passengers are way out of control at the moment and have been for many years.
    I maintain -get with them from A to B safely (which will happen. Qantas crew and pilots are supreme professionals). Extras are nice. That is all.
    If you have any complaints I suggest you don’t travel. Stay home and eat. Oh. You don’t like that ?

  • Miti

    says:

    Dear Bob,

    Both you and Tinai need to just do one thing! Fly Emirates – as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating!! Wipes of any kind you will find Emirates 110% better than Qantas and I am sad to write this but it’s a fact. 30 years ago I would be on your side by in 2020 NO WAY !!!!

  • Barry

    says:

    We could be living with the virus for a while yet. Those that are able should support every business they can. If Qantas or any airline for that matter don’t get back in the sky, our travel options will be very limited and extremely expensive. We can only protect ourselves with reasonable constraints. I am looking forward to booking a Qantas flight to anywhere, take a break, support local communities, especially fire affected areas. Can’t expect any airline to operate with social distancing onboard, few people would be able to afford it. Pack a mask, hand sanitiser and a mask. Avoid high touch area’s and if unavoidable use sanitiser. It’s a different world we are living in and we need to adapt. Time will tell how safe it is!

  • Red Cee

    says:

    I would like to know how domestic travel is going to increase to 50% when many states still have a fourteen day quarantine period when you disembark from the plane. As an example, if you fly from New South Wales to Queensland, when you land in Qld , you have to spend two weeks in Quarantine. So, my question is, why would you fly?

    • Jell

      says:

      The answer to all is – there is NO 14 days quarantine on mainland just in tassie ofcourse – Why? just take a Virus test when you arrive it only takes 2 days to get results. Bingo ! no 14 day iso ! unless you are positive.

  • Nicholas

    says:

    Something is badly wrong here. Overseas we see Airlines saying they’re not selling the middle rows. You can’t go to a restaurant without the table being 1.5 metres min away from the next diner. In NSW you can’t have anyone sit that distance or less from you on the buses.

    But here, the announcement made by QF of basically business as normal in terms of loading with no observation of if this is good bad or otherwise by the public health officials who normally would be crawling all over an issue such as this…

    Based on the way the rest of society is being regimented this proposal by QF would seem to be a public health disaster yet we hear nothing.

    Very very confusing and I suspect most of the public won’t touch it with a barge pole.

    No word from the other airlines either on their strategy.

    This is not a good look for the Airline industry to be honest. If Joyce was so sure this was ok why didn’t he have Commonwealth public health approval as part of the announcement.

    Something is badly wrong here…

    • Jack

      says:

      The QANTAS DMS/CMO has authorised the full use of cabin seating.
      I’m sure he knows more about Aviation Medicine than many folk.

      The Company is NOT Govt owned! It can make its’ own decisions’.

      The air which is pumped into an aircraft cabin is the same quality which is in Hospital Operating Theatres’. This air is renewed every FIVE minutes’.

      People will be proud to fly on their National Carrier.
      It has been named ‘World’s Safest Airline’ for SEVEN years’ straight now.
      It’s the ONLY Airline to have been TWICE awarded the Cumberbatch Trophy for Safety.
      Google that.

      I doubt CEO, Alan Joyce, would risk his Company’s sterling reputation, or Crew & passenger safety in anyway.

      • Adrian

        says:

        Yes, Jack, & an aircraft cabin is PRESSURISED, which doesn’t happen at restaurants’, pubs’, clubs’, in the street or local park, on bikeways’, or in buses’.

        HUGE difference, in relation to ‘germ control’.

      • Linda Weaving

        says:

        Perhaps Joyce and others accept that leaving vacant seats on a plane will create a false sense of security about the risk of becoming infected whilst engaging in air travel? For example, everyone passes through a narrow corridor to access the plane. Everyone touches the back of seats whilst walking down the aisle. Practically everyone touches the overhead lockers. On an international flight, the chance of one of those people being infected is high.

  • Bernard

    says:

    If KFC and other fast food places can give a small satchet of wipes with a bit of bleach/citrus in it I’m sure Qantas could too. It would be an appreciated good will gesture if nothing more. Not everyone remembers to use sanitizer stations and having staff standing enforcing it adds to business cost too.
    Why not use the middle seat and keep sides empty in the aisle at least? Can pax have the option of buying the next seats to ensure some distancing?

  • Is it significant that today’s quote about the air conditioning on Qantas aircraft refers to the removal of 99.9 % of bacteria, with no reference to the removal of Viruses ?
    The previous statement referred to the removal of 99.9 % of both Bacteria and viruses!
    I doubt if I will fly until the Health Authorities say it’s medically safe, at the airport and on the plane.
    Migrant

  • Navarra

    says:

    It never ceases to amaze me people patronise these middle Eastern / gulf Airlines that don’t operate on a level playing field, overwork there tech and cabin crew, what happened to the short lived new buy Australian,!?

  • Fly QANTAS, fly! If only we can get some sense into these power hungry Premiers to open their State borders.

    And as for the outraged passengers demanding the middle seats be blocked, these same people I suspect would be outraged at having to pay substantial air fare increases due to the hefty revenue loss of those blocked seats.

  • J. Power

    says:

    The whole social-distancing thing is ridiculous. Did you see the aerial shot of the park in NY where the authorities sprayed giant white circles on the grass to keep folks apart? But the Mayor of NYC can be driven in a convoy 11 miles from his mansion which is in a park to Brooklyn to walk amongst the people. Did I mention he lives in a PARK?? It is insane. And our gov’t is insane for marching in lockstep with whatever the idiot experts say. Vote OUT the pollies who broke our economy. If you are scared to travel, stay home. Let the rest of us get back to work.

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