Qantas may be on the verge of a big international schedule revamp with canceled flights through March 2021. This comes as Australia continues to restrict the arrival of foreign tourists, and the carrier awaits a rise in international travel demand.
Halting the sale of international flights
First reported at Executive Traveller, Qantas has pulled ticket sales for international flights through the end of March. This is a remarkably long schedule period without flight options on Qantas. The airline is, however, offering flights onboard its partners.
The sales have been halted for itineraries up to March 28th. After then, the northern summer 2021 season will start, and schedules will be modified compared to the northern winter season, which will begin later this year.
Previously, Qantas had suspended international flights through October. Passengers who are booked on flights between October and March should keep an eye out on their itinerary. It is likely that, within the next few weeks, Qantas starts to remove some flights and provide options for passengers.
Recovery is not on the horizon
This comes not too long after Qantas outlined its COVID recovery plan from the current crisis. The airline is engaging in aggressive cost savings and is grounding fleet across the main brand and its subsidiaries, including Jetstar.
CEO Alan Joyce has previously stated that international travel likely will not be on the horizon for the airline until mid-2021. Of course, the variables on that timeline would be the emergence of a vaccine for COVID-19 or else potential flare-ups that would further restrict the possibility for international travel. One thing that could work in favor of Qantas would be any potential travel bubbles that open up.
The Airbus A380s are entering parking for about three years– if not longer– depending on how the situation plays out. As the airline’s largest jets by capacity, turning a profit on these planes would require a considerable uptick in tourism based on current demand. Another iconic type, the 747, will be retired for good, but not before some “farewell flights” this month.
Australia is taking a different stance
Australia has taken a strong stance on allowing international flights. This has restricted many operations to and from the country. However, essential cargo flights have continued, and airlines have added new cargo-only frequencies to help keep global supply chains moving.
Most other airlines, ranging from American Airlines and Emirates to British Airways and Air Canada, have started to reopen international flights in some way, shape, or form. A lot of that does, however, have to do with the lifting of restrictions for tourism. Australia is in no rush, however, to start opening up the country to large numbers of tourists again.
However, domestically, things are a little different. Qantas recently offered a big sale on domestic flights, which came with phenomenal results. While there is some pent-up travel demand, airlines around the world are discovering that most of that demand is currently domestic. Or, for European airlines, within the continent.
When do you think Qantas will resume international flights? Let us know in the comments!