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Qantas says cheap tickets will speed up return to 80% capacity

written by Adam Thorn | March 11, 2021
Qantas B737 VH-XZI reaches for the sky off 34L YSSY 12.2.21
A Qantas B737 VH-XZI takes off from Sydney in February 2021 (Justin McCoy)

Qantas has said the government’s new package of financial support will accelerate its return to 80 per cent domestic capacity.

“This stimulus package will bring our domestic crews back to work faster and help them ramp up their hours closer to pre-crisis levels,” said chief executive Alan Joyce.

Late on Wednesday night, the Prime Minister revealed the new package of measures that will include 46,600 discounted fares per week to 13 tourism destinations including the Gold Coast, Whitsundays and Merimbula.

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The help will also include cheap loans to small business coming off JobKeeper, wage subsidies for 8,600 international aviation employees and a six-month extension of the ‘RANS’ and ‘DANS’ supplemented routes initiative.

Qantas and Jetstar are currently operating at 60 per cent of their pre-COVID levels but hope the new package will speed up its plans to hit 80 per cent in the fourth quarter of the financial year.

The financial help will specifically allow Qantas to cut the price of 550,000 Qantas and Jetstar fares and support 7,500 employees working in its international operation.

It also said the money would deliver paid training for pilots, cabin crew and engineers, bring idle aircraft back to service and maintain flights on otherwise unviable routes.

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“We have around 7,500 people in our international business who have already been out of work for a year and will, unfortunately, stay grounded until at least the end of October,” said Joyce.

“To be clear, this targeted support will go directly to employees to help them meet their cost of living while they wait for international flying to return. It’s not a subsidy for Qantas.

“In total, this package is a lifeline for broader travel and tourism sector in Australia, just as it’s trying to get back on its feet. Ultimately, it’s an investment in an industry that has always been a huge driver of economic activity and will be again.

“The targeted support from the federal government is about helping people stay connected to aviation despite the extended of period of time they still face on the ground. It helps preserve the skills and experience we’re going to need when long haul flying restarts. In a country like Australia, that capability has taken years to build and is absolutely crucial for the nation’s future.”

Late on Wednesday night, the Prime Minister said the ‘Tourism Aviation ­Network Support’ scheme of cheap tickets will run between 1 April and 31 July and be accessed directly through airline websites. It’s hoped the deal will encourage airlines to increase their capacity and put more planes in the air.

“This package will take more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard,” said PM Scott Morrison. “That means more jobs and investment for the tourism and aviation sectors as Australia heads towards winning our fight against COVID-19 and the ­restrictions that have hurt so many businesses.”

JobKeeper payments are set to end nationwide at the end of March, and the government has previously remained tight-lipped as to exactly what support would follow.

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