Qantas has extended its international flight cancellations until the end of July, with domestic and Trans-Tasman flights suspended until the end of June.
The Australian carrier also added that some capacity could be added back as there is “scope to restore some services at relatively short notice as restrictions lift”. Qantas said the easing of government restrictions suggests some domestic travel may start to return before the end of July. The Group will “monitor the situation and can increase capacity with a minimum lead time of around one week”.
“Australia has done an amazing job of flattening the curve and we’re optimistic that domestic travel will start returning earlier than first thought, but we clearly won’t be back to pre-coronavirus levels anytime soon. With the possible exception of New Zealand, international travel demand could take years to return to what it was,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.
The Qantas Group is currently operating around 5 per cent of its regular (pre-coronavirus) domestic passenger network and around 1 per cent of its international network. On a flying hours basis, which includes charters for the resources sector at 75 per cent of pre-coronavirus levels and passenger aircraft flying as freighters, the Group said it is operating 13 per cent of its domestic network and 6 per cent of its international network.
The airline has also secured a further $550million in debt funding against three of its Boeing 787-9 aircraft to help it survive the pandemic. The Qantas Group is expecting to lose $40million a week by the end of June 2020.
The funding follows the $1billion it raised in March, which gives the company enough liquidity until December 2021.
“Our cash balance shows that we’re in a very strong position, which under the circumstances we absolutely have to be. We don’t know how long domestic and international travel restrictions will last or what demand will look like as they’re gradually lifted,” said Joyce.
The airline also said about 25,000 of the company’s 30,000 employees will remain stood-down until at least until the end of June “as a result of the crisis’ impact on travel”.
Customers with bookings impacted by the cancellations for June and July will be contacted directly and offered alternatives, according to the airline.
Qantas also added that in response to feedback, travel credit conditions are being further improved. This means customers booked on Qantas and Jetstar flights disrupted by the coronavirus crisis will be able to split travel credits across multiple future bookings. Customers with bookings made through travel agents or third party websites will need to contact them directly, the carrier added.
Rival Australian airline Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration last month, with accounting firm Deloitte appointed to oversee the process.