Qantas is prepared to offer international flights in Sydney and Melbourne first, leaving other states behind if they don’t reopen with the rest of the country, according to Alan Joyce.
Last week, the airline’s CEO told the Trans-Tasman Business Circle that he hopes states will stick to the national plan.
“We might get into a situation where from Sydney you can visit your relatives in London, maybe Dublin, but you can’t visit your relatives in Perth, or maybe Cairns,” Joyce said, according to Traveller.
Qantas’ boss took a swipe at Western Australia and Queensland, which are both facing scrutiny from the federal government for not committing to opening their borders when vaccine rates hit 80 per cent.
“Unfortunately, I think there’s one or two states that are taking a more conservative view on that, and departing from the national plan,” he said.
Qantas’ chief customer officer, Stephanie Tully, echoed Joyce’s comments during a Tourism Australia webinar on Friday.
“It is a national plan, and it’s our view … we should open up together, but if not, we can plan for scenarios that Sydney and Melbourne can open up,” she said, according to The Australian Financial Review.
“It’s not ideal.”
Tully said the airline is expecting a “large influx of demand” as soon as borders open, but a 14-day hotel quarantine would significantly impact any bounceback.
“If it’s 14 days’ hotel quarantine, we will not get the demand we need to operate. Hotel quarantine is a demand killer,” she said.
“Our view is hotel quarantine should be eliminated or greatly reduced.”
Instead, Tully said quarantine should only be mandatory until a negative COVID-19 result is returned.
She also promised the airline wouldn’t make flying prohibitively expensive as a result of higher demand.
“Pricing will not be high because our priority is to get people back in the air,” she said.
“As long as we can make a dollar in the air, we will do it.”
Joyce also reiterated the airline’s stance on compulsory vaccination for overseas travellers.
“Qantas will have a policy that, internationally, we’ll only be carrying vaccinated passengers,” he told the Trans-Tasman Business Circle.
“Because we think that’s going to be one of the requirements to show that you’re flying safe and getting into those countries. We’re hoping that can happen by Christmas.”
Joyce revealed that 300,000 people have already claimed a reward from Qantas’ vaccine incentive and that 75 per cent had chosen the 1,000 frequent flyer points.
Last month, the airline has also announced vaccination against COVID-19 would be mandatory for all staff, with front line workers new required to be fully vaccinated by 15 November and all other employees by 31 Mach 2022 with “very rare” exceptions.
Joyce said he expected international travel to other highly vaccinated countries like the UK, US, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Fiji to resume once vaccine rates hit 80 per cent.
“We’ll probably try a lot of new routes internationally, and as certain borders will open up and others won’t,” he said, adding that Australians “needed” to be travelling again by Christmas.
“The population needs it. I think people want to connect together, people want to see family again. People want to do business again.
“There’s a lot of very important reasons why we should start opening up when we meet those key targets on the vaccination plan.”
Qantas has seen searches for international flights triple since the airline announced its restart plan, with London, Los Angeles, Singapore and Tokyo proving popular, according to the AFR.