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Friday 19 May 2023

Qantas promises return to pre-Covid flight levels

Qantas has announced plans to boost its international network with extra flights, more aircraft and new routes as it restores capacity in line with what it describes as "strong travel demand and the broader recovery of the aviation industry".

From late October 2023, the Australian national carrier will add around one million seats to its international network over 12 months compared to its current schedule, offering customers more choice to destinations across Asia, the United States and the Pacific.

The additional capacity will be made possible through a combination of more Qantas aircraft returning to service, new aircraft joining the fleet and an arrangement with oneworld partner Finnair to operate two Airbus A330 aircraft on two Qantas routes.

The network changes will see the group’s international capacity grow to around 100% of pre-Covid levels by March 2024, up from 44% 12 months ago and 84% right now.

Qantas said it has employed 2,400 pilots and cabin crew since borders reopened; and said a further 300 people will be needed by the end of the year.

The announcement came as Qantas prepares to resume San Francisco flights next week and launch its inaugural service from Sydney to New York via Auckland next month. Seasonal services to Rome and flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong will resume in June.

“The rebound in demand for international travel since borders reopened has been incredibly strong and this boost to our network will add hundreds of thousands of seats in time for the busy Australian summer holiday period,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

“Qantas has been the most on-time major domestic airline for the past eight months in a row and that improved performance means we can release some of the aircraft we’ve had in reserve. That reflects more parts of the aviation supply chain returning to normal and it’s a huge credit to the hard work of our people across the group.

“While airlines globally are working to restore capacity to meet demand, there is still a mismatch between supply and demand for international flying. But with more of our aircraft back in the air, new 787s joining our fleet and our contract with Finnair, we’ve got more seats for our customers and more opportunity for Qantas crew as we increase our own flying.

“We know our customers are looking for great value and this additional capacity will also put downward pressure on fares.”

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