Qantas CEO Alan Joyce will soon make a call on the airline’s future flight plans for June and beyond, in the face of continuing uncertainty over the trajectory of the coronavirus and when national and international travel restrictions may ease.
“We’ll have to make a decision sometime in April about what we do for June and July,” Joyce told media following an announcement on March 19 that Qantas would suspend all international flights until at least the end of May 2020, accompanied by a 60% reduction to domestic flights.
“We have a range of options, to cut further and deeper, or to add capacity back,” Joyce said, allowing that “things are moving very fast and this is all about flexibility and maintaining flexibility.”
“We have a plan for three months, six months, nine months, a year,” Joyce revealed. “Nobody knows when this is going to end.”
Qantas has grounded almost all of its international jets, from the mighty Airbus A380s and the iconic Boeing 747s – which may face early retirement – to the modern Boeing 787s, although a handful of Dreamliners will return to the skies this month on repatriation flights to London, the USA, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
But for the most part, once-busy airports have become parking lots, especially for two-thirds of Qantas’ 75-strong Boeing 737-800 fleet.
At the same time, Qantas has formed a dedicated “startup team” tasked with ramping up operations when clear bright light shines from the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.
“If it’s more than three months you’ll have recurrence training (for pilots), you’ll have particular engineering items you need to do.”
“The start-up team is working out what that looks like so that we can activate it when the market turns, so we can be ahead of the curve, because we need to be ahead of the curve to help Australia get back on its feet."