Because of the sudden growth in COVID-19 cases, Qantas and Jetstar will reduce their fiscal third quarter capacity to around 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels, compared to the 102 percent that was previously planned.
On Thursday (January 13, 2022), Qantas Group announced that Qantas and Jetstar will reduce their FY22 third quarter capacity due to the sudden growth in COVID-19 Omicron cases. Instead of offering 102 percent of capacity compared to Q3 FY19 capacity as planned, the carrier will offer approximately 70 percent of pre-pandemic capacity. To minimize customer inconvenience, the carrier will focus on reducing frequencies and downsizing aircraft. The Group’s international capacity for the same period will also be reduced from a planned 30 percent to 20 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The International reduction is being driven by increased travel restrictions in Japan, Thailand and Indonesia, primarily impacting Jetstar leisure routes, while other markets such as London, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Johannesburg and India continue to perform well.
In Thursday’s announcement, Qantas Group’s CEO, Alan Joyce, said,
“The sudden uptick in COVID cases is having an obvious impact on consumer behaviour across various sectors, including travel, but we know it’s temporary. Thankfully, Australia has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates and the Omicron variant is milder than its predecessors. So, as challenging as this current phase is, we’re optimistic that it is likely to fast track a return to normal. People are already looking beyond what’s happening now with early bookings for the Easter holidays in April looking promising for both domestic and international.
“We have the flexibility to add capacity back if demand improves earlier than expected, but 70 per cent still represents a lot of domestic flying and it’s a quantum improvement on the levels we faced only a few months ago. Our focus on cash positive flying remains, notwithstanding some of the costs that we’ll have to absorb from this sudden drop in demand. Can I thank our people who have done an outstanding job of helping over a million Australians travel over the summer holidays, and to our customers for their ongoing understanding as we make our way through these latest challenges. This is a difficult time right across the community, but something we’ll get through.”
Customers impacted by the capacity reduction will be contacted by Qantas or their Travel Agent from late January, and in many cases will be offered an alternative same-day flight. Qantas and Jetstar will continue to have 100 percent of their Australia-based crew stood up. To provide more confidence for customers booking domestic or international flights, Qantas has extended their ‘Fly Flex’ policy, enabling customers to change their travel dates as often as needed without fees, though a fare difference may apply.