Covid-19: Australia's Qantas delays expected restart of international travel
Qantas Airways Ltd. pushed back its expectations for the start of international travel as Covid-19 travel restrictions drove the airline to a fiscal first-half loss.
Qantas now aims to start overseas flights to most destinations from late October 2021, four months later than planned, Qantas said in a statement Thursday.
“None of us knew just how big an impact Covid would have on the world, or on aviation,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said. “It’s clearly worse than anyone expected.”
Qantas is cutting at least 8,500 jobs and scything costs as part of a three-year plan to survive aviation’s biggest-ever crisis. Like airlines worldwide, Qantas’ attempts to fly even limited schedules have been repeatedly stymied by snap border closures, inside Australia and overseas.
The Australian carrier swung to a pretax underlying loss of A$1.03 billion ($821 million) in the six months ended December from a profit of A$771 million a year earlier.
Globally, hopes for a vaccine-inspired travel recovery this year have receded as super-infectious coronavirus variants trigger tougher quarantines for arriving passengers. So far, the aviation industry’s proposal for test or vaccine certificates to replace mandatory isolations hasn’t gained traction with governments.
Joyce’s turnaround plan for Qantas involves cutting A$15 billion in costs over three years.
The airline has grounded its entire fleet of 12 giant Airbus A380s for at least three years, and has deferred a backlog of other aircraft deliveries.