QantasLink will soon offer all passengers complimentary in-flight entertainment options for the first time, as the regional carrier begins to roll out access through the new Qantas Entertainment app.
From September, passengers on QLink services will be able to access over 2,500 hours of movies and TV shows from their own device via the Qantas Entertainment app. The app also gives customers access to thousands of titles through its streaming partner Stan.
By mid-2022, all customers travelling across the carrier’s fleet of Boeing 717, Fokker 100, Airbus A320 as well as its wet leased Alliance Airlines Embraer E190 aircraft will have access to the app to stream content to their device.
According to Qantas, the entertainment upgrade will begin on one of QLink’s A329 aircraft this week, with the streaming technology to be installed progressively across all jets by mid-2022.
Prior to the upgrade, inflight entertainment was only offered on QLink’s dual-cabin 717, as well as Qantas’ mainline fleet.
Passengers can download the Qantas Entertainment app from the app store prior to departure, or access Qantas’ selection of entertainment via an internet browser.
Qantas Group chief customer officer Stephanie Tully said when the rollout was complete, in-flight entertainment would be available on up to 180 Qantas and QantasLink aircraft.
“Customers tell us they value being able to take time for themselves inflight to catch up on their favourite TV shows or watch movies they didn’t get to see at the cinema,” Tully said.
“This investment means more of our customers will have access to in-flight entertainment, particularly when travelling to smaller capital cities and regional centres.
“In a normal year, our customers watch more than 20 million hours of movies and TV shows while flying with us, so we know our streaming service is incredibly popular, especially on longer domestic routes.”
Tully added that with the current “momentum” of Australia’s vaccine rollout, the airline is expecting demand for domestic travel to ramp up quickly, once border restrictions are eased.
“Improvements like this will make it even better when it does,” she concluded.
It comes as Qantas continues preparations to ramp up its international network from December this year, as it anticipates the re-opening of Australia’s international borders.
However, the eventual re-opening relies upon 80 per cent of the Australian adult population being vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as the Australian government easing certain requirements for vaccinated travellers, such as two-week hotel quarantine.
“There’s still lots of things to be decided between now and then,” CEO Alan Joyce said. “One, we have to get the 80 per cent vaccination rate and uptake here has just been amazing … So I think we’ll get there.
“We also need to resolve this hotel quarantine issue.”
Joyce said that “hopefully” vaccinated travellers would be able to isolate at home after returning to Australia, until they receive a negative COVID test.
The Qantas chief also again noted that travel is likely to only be viable to countries with high vaccination rates “at least to start”.
“We think the west coast of the US is definitely there, London, Canada, Singapore and Tokyo — it’s a big operation that we could parole,” he said.
“And the [Australian] government, the prime minister and the rest of the government, have said that looks like a valid plan but still we have to see how this develops over the next few months.”
Looking ahead, Joyce said the airline has re-activated aircraft and is now in a position to re-train its pilots and cabin crew ahead of the national and global re-start.
“We think once we get to Christmas we’ll be back domestically to over 100 per cent of pre-COVID schedule. Actually for the second half of the [financial] year, from January to June, we’re forecasting 110 per cent so we’re bigger domestically,” he said.
The news comes as Qantas announced it will return five of its 12 Airbus A380s to service “ahead of schedule”, and see 10 of the 12 back in the sky by 2024.
The airline said it will use the five A380s to fly between Sydney and LA from July 2022, and between Sydney and London, via Singapore, from November 2022.
The airline had previously stated that while it was committed to retaining its A380 fleet, the four-engined jets were unlikely to return to service until 2023.
Joyce has again suggested that the Qantas model makes it one of the few airlines internationally that can successfully sustain the Airbus A380 in the post-COVID world.
Speaking with CNN, Joyce said that “pent up demand” in Australia for overseas travel, along with limited available slots of London Heathrow and LAX, means that Qantas can reasonably fill its A380s and make the venture profitable.
“When we looked at the research… The desire to travel once the borders open up and it’s safe to do is massive. It’s three times the levels it normally is in Australia,” Joyce said.
“There’s a lot of pent up demand to visit friends or relatives, to take that holiday.”