Qantas cancels all overseas flights until October
International travel will take years to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and passengers will be much more selective when choosing a long-haul carriers, a major airline boss says.
Qatar Airways chief strategy and transformation officer Thierry Antinori told The Australian the rebound "will take years".
"People will be more conscious about the reliability of the airline that they use. There's a lot more cautiousness to flying and we need airlines that provide good service to customers. Customers want reliability," Mr Antinori told The Australian.
A Qatar airways boss says international travel will take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Supplied
Qatar Airways repatriated thousands of Australians during the pandemic while other airlines were grounded. In April, it was the single biggest carrier into Australia, operating 44.5 per cent of flights.
"We flew continuously during the crisis," said Mr Antinori, who was previously CEO of Austrian Airlines and chief commercial officer of Emirates Airlines.
"I think people will remember us for that. Other airlines are (now) trying to restart but it is very difficult.
"Australia has been the most important market for us during COVID-19 and we are thankful they allowed us to fly into Brisbane. For us it's important to do the best for the customer and the trade."
QANTAS CANCELS ALL OVERSEAS FLIGHTS UNTIL LATE OCTOBER
Qantas has cancelled international flights until late October except for services to New Zealand.
The decision comes after federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia's border for overseas travel would likely reopen next year. Qantas signalled flights could resume if travel between Australia and other countries opened up.
"With Australia's borders set to remain closed for some time, we have cancelled most international flights until late October," a Qantas spokesperson said in a statement.
Qantas has cancelled international flights until late October except for services to New Zealand. Picture: Brett Costello
"We still have some flights scheduled across the Tasman in the coming months, with the expected travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.
"Should travel between Australia and other countries open up and demand returns, we can add more flights back into our schedule."
On Wednesday Mr Birmingham encouraged Australians to holiday domestically, with international travel forbidden for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus threat.
He said the government might eventually look at short-term overseas travel to countries other than New Zealand that have similar success in suppressing coronavirus.
"I do, sadly, think that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off, just because of the practicalities of the volumes that are involved and the need for us to first and foremost keep putting health first," he told the National Press Club.
Asked whether that was more likely to resume next year, he said " I think that is more likely the case".
Aussie travellers urged to do 'patriotic duty'
Australia's tourism minister will today urge Australians to do their "patriotic duty" by holidaying in their backyard.
Simon Birmingham will tell the National Press Club there's an enormous potential to replace the vanished overseas travellers with Australians.
Nearly 10 million Australians travelled overseas last year spending $65 billion in foreign destinations.
That money would go a long way to helping domestic tourism operators reeling from the bushfires and coronavirus pandemic.
"For those Australians who can afford to do so, we want them to feel an almost patriotic duty to get out and support the jobs and small businesses of their fellow citizens by having whatever Aussie holiday they can," he will say.
"That could mean instead of the beaches of Bali, it could be the beaches of Byron Bay."
South Australia yesterday announced it would reopen its borders to people from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania from today.
Queensland is expected to reopen to interstate visitors from July 10, midway through the NSW school holidays.
The closure of state borders has been a sticking point in preventing Australians from holidaying farther afield throughout the country.
The tourism and hospitality sectors have been the hardest hit by the virus.
About three in 10 accommodation and food sector jobs have been lost since mid-March, the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.
Just 750 foreign tourists arrived in Australia in May, compared with nearly 458,000 in the same month last year.
It comes as Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron pushes for Canberra-Wellington flights to begin in a fortnight.
In a letter to several cabinet ministers, obtained by The Australian, Mr Byron warns the sooner the trans-Tasman bubble opens the less likely the economy is to take a bigger hit.
"The incremental opening of the trans-Tasman bubble in the first half of July rather than as late as September 1 could be the difference between an economic recession or a deep-seated depression," Mr Byron said.
"To this end I would formally request that the Australian government, subject to the prevailing health advice, consider approving flights from Wellington to Canberra; to commence in the period between 1 July 2020 and 14 July 2020 and run on a daily basis thereafter; and no quarantine restrictions be placed on arriving passengers."