While Australians are looking forward to the easing of restrictions and wondering what it would be like on the ‘other side’ of COVID-19, there seems to be some very good news for the domestic travellers. Sounding as music to ears, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has said in a marker update that flights from Melbourne to Sydney could be as cheap as $19 on the other side of the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking during the company’s Third Quarter Trading Update, Mr Joyce said his airline was in a good position to ride out the crisis and that “life on the other side” could include massively discounted flight prices.
“Airfares could be half of what they are today,” he said.
“For example on Melbourne-Sydney you could see Jetstar fares of $39, you could see $19 airfares and we will still cover our cash costs.”
He also said the company has enough strength to survive without flying until December 2021.
“There’s a reason why Qantas is the longest continuous operating airline in the world. It’s very competitive and it has the DNA to adapt to the market and the environment.”
Subdued market on the other side
Mr Joyce said the market won’t return to former demand levels as broader consumer confidence and spending is expected to remain subdued beyond the crisis. Lower airfares will be used to target those Australians experiencing “pent-up demand” to travel interstate and visit family and friends.
“We need to think about what the business needs to look like to exceed in the world – our fleet, our network and our structure – like most companies we will have to be different.”
Mr Joyce also announced that staff across Qantas and Jetstar will remain stood down until the end of June, while international flights will not resume before August at the very earliest, adding the August start could not be guaranteed either.
The airline also announced it had borrowed another $550 million while extending flight cancellations and its stand down of thousands of staff.
Mr Joyce said the group was in a strong position, but there was no way of knowing when travel restrictions would end.
“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,” he said.
“With the possible exception of New Zealand, international travel demand could take years to return to what it was” Mr Joyce added.
Let us welcome $19 flights on the ‘other side’.