The Qantas Group has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of fresh support for Australian aviation and tourism.
The $1.2 billion industry-wide package has several elements which, combined, will support the sector that has arguably been worst hit by the COVID crisis and related restrictions. It is the result of detailed discussions with government and business over several months.
Pre-COVID, the Qantas Group helped to generate nearly $13 billion in economic activity – the equivalent of almost 1 per cent of the nation’s GDP. Targeted stimulus will help fast-track the return of that activity as well as support the retention of key skills vital to the future of Australian aviation.
Specifically, the package will enable Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar to:
- Offer up to 32,000 fares per week discounted by 50 per cent of median prices to key regional destinations such as Far North Queensland, Launceston and Alice Springs, stimulating travel demand and driving tourism spending for four months.
- Keep up to 7,500 skilled employees associated with its international operations connected to the business while Australia’s borders remain closed.
- Deliver essential, paid training for pilots, cabin crew and engineers and bring idle aircraft back to service in preparation for international flying to return.
- Maintain key transport links on routes that otherwise would not be commercially viable.
- Continue to deliver repatriation flights on behalf of the Federal Government to help bring Australians home.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “This support is fantastic news for aviation and for the thousands of businesses, big and small, that rely on the tourism industry.
“With the vaccine rollout now giving more certainty that state borders will stay open, this is the perfect time to provide stimulus and get people travelling domestically again, particularly given there won’t be any international tourists for another seven months,” said Mr Joyce.
Qantas and Jetstar are at about 60 per cent of their pre-COVID levels of domestic flying for the third quarter of this financial year and project this will increase to around 80 per cent in the fourth quarter. The stimulus program gives more certainty that increase will occur and, depending on take-up, is expected to accelerate it.
Mr Joyce added: “This stimulus package will bring our domestic crews back to work faster and help them ramp up their hours closer to pre-crisis levels.
“We have around 7,500 people in our international business who have already been out of work for a year and will unfortunately stay grounded until at least the end of October.
“The targeted support from the Federal Government is about helping people stay connected to aviation despite the extended of period of time they still face on the ground. It helps preserve the skills and experience we’re going to need when long haul flying restarts. In a country like Australia, that capability has taken years to build and is absolutely crucial for the nation’s future.
“To be clear, this targeted support will go directly to employees to help them meet their cost of living while they wait for international flying to return. It’s not a subsidy for Qantas.
“In total, this package is a lifeline for broader travel and tourism sector in Australia, just as it’s trying to get back on its feet. Ultimately, it’s an investment in an industry that has always been a huge driver of economic activity and will be again,” added Mr Joyce.
Over the coming weeks, the Qantas Group will work with the Federal Government and broader industry on detail to support the rollout of the stimulus program. Special fares will be available via qantas.com and jetstar.com from 1 April 2021 for travel from 1 May 2021.
The Qantas Group has flagged at least 8,500 jobs will be lost due to COVID – approximately a third of its workforce. Its three year restructuring program continues due to fundamental shifts in the industry and the financial realities associated with $11 billion in lost revenue since the start of the pandemic.