Australia’s domestic aviation industry roared back into life on Friday morning when 10,000 Jetstar $19 tickets sold out in just four hours.
The special offer was part of a wider sale on 200,000 seats, with 70,000 selling out by early afternoon at a rate 40 times higher than a typical day.
The Qantas Group said the news highlights the “huge pent up demand” for air travel and will be seen by many as a sign that consumers are now confident to begin flying again.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said, “We have a lot of aircraft on the ground with fixed costs attached to them, so if we can put some of them back in the air by offering special fares, it’s a positive for us, for our people, for tourism and for consumers.”
in early May, Joyce surprisingly promised to offer $19 flights between Sydney and Melbourne when domestic flying restrictions are lifted.
This morning’s sale covered 35 routes across 15 destinations in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.
The offer included 10,000 fares for $19 one-way on 22 routes including Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Gold Coast, Melbourne to Byron Bay (Ballina), Brisbane to Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine), and Adelaide to Cairns.
Other sale fares included Brisbane to Mackay from $49, Sydney to Hamilton Island from $79 and Brisbane to Darwin from $79.
Jetstar said on Friday afternoon that tickets were selling at a rate of 220 per minute, nearly 40 times higher than the normal rate of bookings.
Passenger numbers have doubled across the wider group’s domestic network over the past week, from 32,000 to 64,000.
Earlier this month, Qantas announced it was planning to add 300 more return flights per week by the end of June, and Virgin said it would add 30,000 seats across 320 flights in July. More flights are expected to be added of the coming months as coronavirus restrictions ease and demand increases.
“We know that these low fares will encourage even more people to get on a flight to take a short holiday or visit family and friends,” said Joyce.
“We’ve already seen our flights from Sydney to Cairns fill up on the days after the proposed Queensland border opening date of 10 July 2020, so we’re adding more.
“There is huge pent up demand for air travel, with people wanting to get away after months of being stuck at home. Our research tells us more than 75 per cent of Australians intend to fly in the next six months.
“As the national carrier we have an important role to play in driving tourism and reviving the industry that has been devastated by COVID-19. There are 1 million people who work in tourism across Australia. The entire industry, from hotel providers to small tourism operators, are struggling to make a post pandemic comeback.”