Qantas and Jetstar have announced discounted fares on 200,000 seats and points offers for frequent flyers in an attempt to reboot Australia’s domestic tourism industry.
Jetstar is launching a sale on 35 routes across 15 destinations in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland.
There are 10,000 fares for $19 one-way on 22 routes, including Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Gold Coast, Melbourne to Byron Bay (Ballina), Brisbane to the Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine), and Adelaide to Cairns.
Other sale fares include Brisbane to Mackay from $49, Sydney to Hamilton Island from $79 and Brisbane to Darwin from $79. Fares are on sale now and run until 23:59 (AEST) on 22 June 2020 unless sold out prior.
Jetstar will be offering sale fares to and from Western Australia and Tasmania following confirmation of the dates that borders to both states will open up.
Furthermore, Qantas is offering its 13 million frequent flyers triple points on all flights nationwide across 92 routes and 57 destinations from 27 June until 31 October 2020. The triple point sale is available now and runs until 24 June 2020.
Both airlines are also offering customers greater flexibility when they book, with the ability to change the date of their flight once without paying a change fee. Customers will have to cover any fare increase (if relevant) for the new booking.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said almost 400,000 seats have been sold on Qantas and Jetstar’s domestic networks in the past fortnight, following confirmation of some state borders opening and both airlines increasing capacity to as much as 40 per cent of pre-crisis levels.
“There is huge pent up demand for air travel, with people wanting to get away after months of being stuck at home,” Joyce said.
“Our research tells us more than 75 per cent of Australians intend to fly in the next six months.
“We know that these low fares will encourage even more people to get on a flight to take a short holiday or visit family and friends.
“We’ve already seen our flights from Sydney to Cairns fill up on the days after the proposed Queensland border opening date of 10 July 2020, so we’re adding more.”
Joyce said the national carrier has an important role to play in driving tourism and reviving the industry that has been devastated by COVID-19.
“There are one million people who work in tourism across Australia. The entire industry, from hotel providers to small tourism operators, are struggling to make a post-pandemic comeback.” he said.
“We have a lot of aircraft on the ground with fixed costs attached to them, so if we can put some of them back in the air by offering special fares, it’s a positive for us, for our people, for tourism, and for consumers.”
Qantas and Jetstar will continue to reintroduce flights across its domestic network in line with demand and the easing of border restrictions.
Passenger numbers on the group’s domestic network have doubled over the past week – from 32,000 to 64,000 – and are expected increase further again in the weeks ahead.
Qantas offers refunds for flight cancellations
In other news, Qantas has written to customers this week letting know that they are entitled to a refund for domestic or international flights cancelled or suspended due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s COVID-19 Taskforce raised concerns with the airline after receiving hundreds of complaints from passengers whose flights were suspended or cancelled due to travel restrictions, but who were given credits by Qantas instead of the refunds they were entitled to.
Qantas’ terms and conditions state that customers with fares booked on any of its domestic and international flights are entitled to have their fare refunded if Qantas makes a significant change to their flight, and Qantas cannot offer another booking which is acceptable to the customer.
The ACCC was concerned that Qantas’ communications to customers between 17 March 2020 and 31 May 2020 did not adequately inform them of their right to receive a refund.
In some cases, the ACCC considered Qantas’ emails may have encouraged these customers to cancel bookings themselves in order to receive a credit when many would have been eligible for a refund.
“We want to ensure that customers are aware that when Qantas suspends or cancels flights due to travel restrictions and fails to provide them with an acceptable alternative flight, they are entitled to a refund,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
The decision by Qantas to send a new email to customers in recent days to “remind” customers about their right to a refund follows weeks of pressure from the ACCC, but the competition watchdog said even the most recent communication is not particularly clear.
“From our perspective, from the outset, Qantas did not communicate clearly with customers about their rights and, in a large number of cases, simply omitted they were entitled to a refund,” Sims said.
“We do appreciate that the airline industry globally is significantly impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, but I think that customers can and should expect better from Qantas, particularly when many of those customers may be out of work or experiencing financial hardship.”
“If any customer in this situation is unhappy with receiving a credit, or no longer wants one due to continuing uncertainty about when flights will resume, we strongly encourage them to contact Qantas and seek a refund.”
In response, a Qantas spokesperson told Travel Weekly: “Travel restrictions have triggered an unprecedented level of change in recent months, with well over a million Qantas bookings moved, refunded or turned into credits.
“We’ve worked hard to explain people’s options, especially during the period of time when there were almost weekly changes to where you could fly.
“We didn’t think it was unclear to begin with, but we’ve written again to a group of customers in the window of time that the ACCC is concerned about to make sure they know what alternatives are available to them.”
“We hope the ACCC is not inferring that we haven’t done the right thing by our customers, particularly given the efforts we have made to manage an exceptional level of upheaval.”
It was only yesterday that Qantas would suspend all scheduled international flights following federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham’s prediction that Australia’s borders will remain closed until next year.