Qantas says tourism is coming back to life as Covid impact tops $20b

Queensland’s tourism sector has sparked back to life with Qantas claiming bookings to fly to Brisbane, Cairns and the Gold Coast had jumped 10-fold as border restrictions start to drop away.

Nov 05, 2021, updated Nov 05, 2021
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce (Photo: ABC News, Tom Hancock)

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce (Photo: ABC News, Tom Hancock)

Qantas had taken almost 500,000 domestic bookings in the past two weeks compared with 20,000 in a two-week period in August.

Qantas’s budget airline Jetstar recently held an international sale and sold 75,000 seats in 72 hours.

Analysis of tourism data by Conus Consultancy showed that although Queensland had largely avoided lockdowns the impact on domestic tourism had been felt sharply.

“Expenditure in August was down 21.9 per cent from August 2020 although for the 12 month period it was still up 19.6 per cent,” Conus economist Pete Faulkner said.

“When we consider the breakdown across Queensland we see that the regions continue to outperform the south east of the state despite the effect of the lockdowns.

“Year on year data saw a 39 per cent decline in Greater Brisbane and the Gold Coast and a fall of 15.4 per cent across regional Queensland. However, summing for the 12 month annual data we see Greater Brisbane and the Gold Coast up just 2.6 per cent while regional Queensland registered a very healthy 33.1 per cent increase.”

Qantas said the Sydney to London service had also been strong because of the demand from Australians wanting to return home for Christmas and Qantas was now looking to reopen lounges and bring back more services.

But the airline’s chairman Richard Goyder said it was remarkable that the airline was still alive.

“In total, it’s likely Covid will have cost us more than $20 billion in revenue by the end of this calendar year. It’s a staggering number and it’s remarkable that the business has managed to deal with this as well as it has,” he said.

He said it felt like Qantas was coming to the end of a “long and difficult road” thanks to the vaccine rollout, but the trading conditions for the first half of its reporting year were “terrible”.

“The exceptions, which have performed well throughout the crisis, have been freight, loyalty and our flying for the resources sector in WA and Queensland,” he said.

Chief executive Alan Joyce said the vaccination rollout was happening faster than anticipated which had led to a ramp up of the crucial Sydney-Melbourne route. However, he said the different re-opening schedules from the states was frustrating.

“That is frustrating for vaccinated travellers who would reasonably expect they can move freely and easily. Hopefully these conditions _particularly PCR testing (for Covid) at every turn _ is dispensed with as Australia becomes more confident living with Covid. Surely, that is something we have all earned,” Joyce said.

Goyder said the airline was on track to deliver a $1 billion transformation by the end of 2023. About $850 million in savings would be achieved by the end of the current financial year.




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