Qantas is likely to fast-track the restart of several overseas routes and boost the number of flights to key destinations when Australia welcomes back international visitors from February 21.
The airline’s international reboot has been a gradual step-by-step affair since regular overseas flights returned on November 1, with inbound travel largely restricted to Australian citizens, permanent residents and members of their immediate family.
That all changes from Monday February 21, with Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce circling the date in his dairy as meaning “Australia is finally back open for business.”
“We know there are lots of international tourists who want to come to Australia. There are also a lot of business travellers who will finally be able to be in the same room as their customers or local teams after almost two years apart. This means they can now book to come here with confidence.”
To help bring them to Australia, Joyce says “we will be looking at our schedules to see if we can restart flights from more international destinations sooner or add capacity to those routes we are already flying.”
Up next is the February 16 restart of the direct service between Sydney and Dallas Fort Worth, while March 27 sees flights to Manila and Bali bouncing back.
And while flights to San Francisco have been suspended until July, there’s now a chance those might return earlier, given Qantas’ previous statement that the airline is “continually reviewing opportunities as demand comes back.”
New destinations on the map
Qantas is also working on a number of all-new destinations to be rolled out this year, some of which could now launch sooner rather than later,
The airline’s primary focus in the short term will be leisure travel and the ‘visiting friends and relatives’ market.
“What we’re doing at the moment is picking routes where we know there's a huge VFR traffic base,” Joyce explains. “India is a big market for that, and that's why we went in… and we were right, there was huge demand.”
“And with Rome, with the big Italian communities in Melbourne and Sydney we thought the peak summer season would support the basis of that service and then we can tap into tourism on top of that.”
Delhi, Rome and other fresh destinations will make full use of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, “which have huge capabilities to do routes that we hadn’t considered before.”
“We have three new 787s arriving from July, which opens up an opportunity for us to expand the international network.”