Aircraft around Australia are being brought out of hibernation as internal border restrictions finally relax. This week, the normally busy tourist state of Queensland said it would open its borders to the populous southern states of New South Wales and Victoria from December 1. As a result, both Qantas and Virgin Australia are significantly bolstering their flight schedules.
Qantas goes back into Queensland in a big way
Right now, Qantas and Jetstar run just 43 return services a week into Queensland from New South Wales and Victoria combined. That will increase to over 400 return services a week in early December.
The Queensland border re-opening will have Qantas senior management jumping for joy. Anticipating news, a bullish CEO, Alan Joyce told the ABC’s Fran Kelly on Radio National on Monday;
“We are thinking that we’ll get back to 60% of pre-COVID domestic (flying) levels by Christmas, depending on borders opening in Queensland. And then in the New Year, we start getting closer to 100%.”
Mr Joyce has got what he wanted. As a result, Qantas and Jetstar have said what routes into Queensland will resume and their anticipated weekly frequencies across December.
After a spot of adventurism from Qantas, with its mainline product venturing onto some new routes recently, the schedule into Queensland is a return to the status quo. Qantas is focusing on the trunk routes while Jetstar is back on the leisure routes.
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Virgin Australia also stepping up its Queensland services
A slimmed-down Virgin Australia is also stepping up its services into Queensland. Yesterday, the airline welcomed the announcement Queensland was re-opening to Sydney residents. Today’s announcement that Queensland will also re-open to Victoria will also cheer Virgin Australia.
Capitalizing on pent up demand to travel and anticipating a spurt of impulse Christmas holiday bookings, Virgin Australia also announced an increased ex-New South Wales flight schedule into Queensland over December. Virgin Australia told Simple Flying an announcement regarding flights out of Melbourne is expected later today.
Unlike Qantas, Virgin Australia won’t fully beef up its schedule from the start of early December. Rather, it will ramp up services over the month. Return services between Sydney and Brisbane will start at thrice daily. But they will go up to seven times daily by Christmas. There will be a daily return service between Sydney and the Gold Coast from early December, before increasing to thrice daily by Christmas.
Return services between Sydney and Cairns and Sydney and the Sunshine Coast will start running four and five times a week respectively in early December. By Christmas, there will be daily return services on each route.
Sydney – Hamilton Island will also see a daily return service by Christmas. Flights between Sydney and Proserpine will resume on December 17, initially thrice weekly.
Return flights between Newcastle and Brisbane will be nine times weekly in early December before going double daily by Christmas.
Qantas moves to snare more domestic market share
It’s good to see Virgin Australia getting back into the air after a torrid year. At the time of publication, they haven’t yet announced their increased services into Queensland out of Melbourne. But as the December schedule out of Sydney suggests, they will offer far fewer flights than the Qantas / Jetstar juggernaut.
On Tuesday, The Australian cited IBISWorld research suggesting Virgin Australia’s slice of Australian domestic market share would decrease from 29.3% pre-COVID-19 to 21.6% by the middle of 2021. Over the same period, Qantas will increase its market share from 60% to 65.1%.
The contrast in December Queensland flight schedules suggests Qantas is well on the way to achieving this.