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Many of you are anxious to get back to travelling. Even though I think that it’s too soon – with a spike or two in coronavirus still to come – I completely understand the sensation. Australia is a very popular destination for Brits and, over the last few weeks, my Twitter feed has been full of headlines such as “book now – great Avios availability to Sydney” and “book a flight to Doha and change the destination to Melbourne“…
But today’s news leads me to believe that it’s all a waste of time, and depending on whether your chosen airline has run out of cash by then, you will probably find your money tied up in “vouchers” for quite awhile.
The news comes from Qantas Airlines, which announced job losses of 6,000 (out of 30,000). And perhaps more interestingly, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that he didn’t expect international travel (to/from Australia) to resume until July 2021 at the earliest.
It’s entirely possible that this could be a strategy to strong arm the Australia government into providing a bailout or some other form of support. But then why announce the retirement of all remaining Boeing 747 aircraft, and the mothballing in the desert of its Airbus A380 fleet? Whilst suggesting that domestic travel will be back to 100% by 2022?
And for cash flow reasons, wouldn’t it make sense for Qantas to keep selling tickets to Australia, instead of shutting down their international schedule so completely?
I certainly wouldn’t expect Qantas to do nothing if British Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, etc. were arriving with planeloads of passengers every day. Or to make an announcement like this if they knew that Australia’s borders will be thrown open on 1 January 2021.
The likeliest scenario? Australia will take advantage of its geographic isolation to keep its borders firmly shut, at least until a vaccine is widespread. Until then… booking flights to Australia appears to be a triumph of hope over experience, at least according to Qantas…