Qantas has lift-off with domestic operations ready to return to 90% of pre-Covid capacity by mid-year.
Rival Virgin Australia says it is not far behind Qantas in bringing back domestic capacity and has appealed to the Australian government to follow up the country’s travel bubble with New Zealand by pursuing ‘bubbles’ with other Covid-contained countries,
All Qantas domestic crew are back at work, while the airline says corporate travel had returned to 65% of its pre-pandemic levels.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the company was still working based on the assumption international flights would resume in late 2021, but that much still depended on vaccine progress.
Virgin Australia plans to prepare an additional 10 Boeing 737-800 aircraft to meet strong demand for domestic tourism.
The airline's chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka has outlined Virgin Australia's recovery plan, with 80% capacity in reach by mid-June.
Short-haul overseas routes to Bali and the Pacific would be among the first to resume, she said.
The airline plans to operate flights to New Zealand under the trans-Tasman bubble in September despite travellers getting the green light for quarantine-free travel from 19 April.
Earlier this month, Australian health minister Greg Hunt revealed Covid-19 vaccinations would not guarantee the reopening of Australia’s international border.
However, in a slightly more optimistic statement, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison said he hoped international travel could resume for those attending funerals or business meetings, before opening the doors to mass travel.