- Qantas will boost seats on flights in and out of Adelaide on a new service that will run four times a week.
- The announcement is yet another sign of strengthening domestic travel as the industry navigates the threat of rolling lockdowns.
- The boosted services are expected to increase Qantas’ domestic capacity to 107% above pre-pandemic levels.
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In another promising sign for the resurgence of domestic travel, Qantas has announced it will add another million seats on its route in and out of Adelaide.
The new service will run four times a week, the national airline said, as it ramps up domestic flights in the face of hardening evidence that international flight routes out of Australia are unlikely to resume until 2022 at the earliest.
The national airline also announced a raft of services to and from the South Australian capital including a new Adelaide-Gold Coast route and the return of its service from Melbourne to Tasmania.
Qantas said five new aircraft will be added to its fleet at Adelaide Airport, which will also cover QantasLink services to Darwin and Canberra.
The boosted services are expected to increase Qantas’ domestic capacity to 107% above pre-pandemic levels, with the airline’s budget arm Jetstar set to hit 120%.
It also announced additional services from Adelaide to Sydney and Melbourne will be added to schedules across both Qantas and Jetstar.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the new additions to the fleet have been added to meet demand and give customers more flight options by “opening up a number of new destinations that wouldn’t [otherwise] be viable.”
“Instead of one or two flights a day with a larger aircraft, we can offer three or four flights a day…which gives customers a lot more choice about when they travel,” Joyce said.
The Qantas boss added the return of travel is providing a financial sugar hit to regional economies, which have suffered as a result of rolling lockdowns and border closures.
Since the pandemic locked Australia’s borders, the aviation sector has also taken a significant hit.
In April Qantas reported it lost $11 billion in revenue last year and increased debt by $2.5 billion since the pandemic began.
In the first quarter of this year, it reported revenue was down 75% compared to pre-COVID.
While previously Joyce publicly stated he planned for the airline’s international flights to resume in October of this year, Australia’s sluggish vaccine rollout and the resurgence of the pandemic in India has led him to concede this date is highly unlikely.
This sentiment was reinforced by Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, who told Sky News on Thursday borders were unlikely to reopen in 2021.
“Australians would be surprised if it resumed at the end of this year or frankly any earlier than that,” Birmingham said.
“Australians do not want us to reopen borders and risk COVID entering into this country, and risk the consequential loss of life, economic damage and loss of jobs across Australia.”
Despite the government’s $1.2 billion tourism rescue package, Australia’s cities and regional tourism hubs have struggled to cover the lost spending normally delivered by international travellers.
Tourism Australia reported a $27.1 billion loss in spending in Australian cities compared to the previous year, with major cities including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth experiencing the most significant decline.
However the additional flights from Qantas signal interstate travel has rebounded and appears to be bolstering the sector.
In the announcement Qantas also reported the new base, which is supported by the South Australian government, was expected to create a further 200 jobs in South Australia for pilots, crew and engineers.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said it would boost the state’s tourism and help Adelaide develop as a regional aviation hub.
“The base will create aviation and maintenance jobs, increase tourism and position Adelaide as Australia’s regional aviation hub,” Marshall said.
“These are important priorities for our state’s economic development and represent a strong step forward in creating direct regional and international aviation connectivity.”
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