A confident Jetstar expects domestic flying in Australia to exceed 2019 levels early next year. On Tuesday morning, the low-cost carrier said they’d operate more than 850 return weekly flights across 55 domestic routes in Australia by March 2021. That is 110% of the flights flown by the airline pre-COVID.
“Travel demand to popular holiday spots is bouncing back in the lead up to the summer holidays,” says Jetstar’s Gareth Evans.
“Australians are globally renowned for loving travel, and as we approach 2021, demand for our low fares services is stronger than ever.”
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Jetstar says people want to fly
Jetstar’s own research showed that 86% of research participants intend to travel domestically in 2021. That roughly corresponds with surveys run by Jetstar’s parent airline, Qantas. The challenge for Jetstar is to convert travel intention into buying a ticket. To encourage that, Jetstar is again running one of its regular sales.
Jetstar is normally a highly profitable airline and a valuable source of revenue for the Qantas Group. Usually, the airline earns well over AU$400 million annually before interest and taxes. However, Jetstar posted a loss of AU$26 million in the 2019/20 financial year. While Jetstar’s domestic operations in Australia were profitable that year, Jetstar’s airlines in Asia dragged the wider Jetstar group into the red.
“We have a lot of repair work to do given the huge toll the COVID crisis took on airlines,” said Mr Evans.
Jetstar eyes domestic market as international services remain suspended
However, Jetstar’s low-cost base, a fairly high degree of flexibility, and strong brand awareness in Australia puts the airline in a strong position to capitalize on any surge in domestic demand. After a protracted series of internal border closures in Australia, locals can finally move around freely again. This is benefitting all Australian domestic airlines, not just Jetstar. On a day return trip to Melbourne last week (not on Jetstar), this writer found the flights operating close to 100% loads.
“While international borders remain closed, more Australians are set to explore places around the country they have never visited, which is great news for local hospitality and tourism operators,” Mr Evans said.
Included in the stepped-up schedule are flights between Melbourne and Busselton. Jetstar was to begin those flights in March 2020. However, the launch was delayed by COVID-19. Now, flights are slated to begin on February 1, 2021. Jetstar’s jet services to the popular Margaret River town will be the airline’s second destination in Western Australia. The flights will also be Bussleton’s first-ever jet service.
New Zealand services back on in late March
Meanwhile, New Zealand agreed to a two-way travel bubble with Australia yesterday. Jetstar has now scheduled flights across the Tasman from the end of March. This is despite no hard start date yet set for the travel bubble. But barring further upsets, there’s a tentative agreement to kickstart the travel bubble sometime in March 2021. Accordingly, Jetstar has loaded flights into its trans-Tasman schedules from March 28.
Locally, Jetstar says it sees strong demand to Melbourne and Hobart. Also popular are the Queensland holiday hotspots of the Gold Coast and Cairns. Jetstar typically wins business by flying a lot of skinny domestic routes spurned by Qantas and Virgin Australia. The airline says it also sees strong demand on these types of routes. It’s good news for a very confident Jetstar.
“Australians are globally renowned for loving travel, and as we approach 2021, demand for our low fares services is stronger than ever,” Gareth Evans said.