The airline is now announcing plans to resume international flights in October, as it reported a 75% drop in revenue.
Qantas Airways Ltd said it had pushed back its target of a widespread resumption of international travel from Australia by four months until the end of October, when the country’s vaccination program is expected to end.
The airline brought its international fleet to a standstill last March and a domestic recovery was hampered by state borders being closed, resulting in a 75% drop in revenue to A $ 2.33 billion ($ 1.9 billion) during the six months preceding December 31.
Qantas said Thursday it fell to an underlying pre-tax loss of A $ 1.03 billion ($ 821 million) in the first half, its most watched financial measure, from a profit of $ 771 million Australians ($ 614 million) a year earlier.
The airline is cutting at least 8,500 jobs and cutting costs as part of a three-year plan to survive the world’s biggest aviation crisis. Some 7,500 other workers will remain demobilized until the borders reopen, said Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.
Its shares rose 5% early in the session to their highest levels since December, with Jefferies analyst Anthony Moulder citing the airline’s strong cash flow and liquidity.
Joyce said he was in close consultation with the Australian government on the prospects for resuming international flights.
“If things change, our dates will change too,” Joyce told reporters. “But with the vaccine rollout already underway, we’re on the right track and this October date looks reasonable and in some ways conservative.”
Joyce hopes to spark a wave of ticket sales by giving a firm date for the resumption of flights.
In the UK, EasyJet Plc’s ticket sales more than quadrupled in the hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week international travel could resume as early as May 17.
Australia began vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19 on Sunday, having had fewer than 29,000 infections and 909 deaths since last March, less than most comparable countries.
Qantas had previously put international tickets on sale from July 1, but pushed that back to October 31, with the exception of flights to New Zealand.
The airline aims to restart 22 of its 25 overseas routes to cities like Los Angeles, London and Johannesburg from October 31, she said. The low-cost arm Jetstar will restart all of its 13 international routes at the same time.
Joyce said Qantas expected international capacity to be only 40% of pre-COVID levels in FY2022 and full recovery was not expected until 2024, according to global estimates.
Qantas said it would require international travelers to be vaccinated to board flights.
In the domestic market, where Qantas normally makes the bulk of its profits, capacity is performing well below pre-pandemic levels due to state borders being closed which it estimates will cost between 350 and 450 million dollars. Australian dollars ($ 279- $ 359 million). before interest, tax amortization in the second half of the year.
The airline plans to operate 80% of its usual domestic capacity in the fourth quarter ending June 30, up from 60% in the third quarter.
Qantas had A $ 4.2 billion ($ 3.3 billion) in cash as of December 31 to help it weather the continuing uncertainty in market conditions.