• Joe Breitfeller

Qantas Group’s Recovery Gains Momentum; Company Signs New Lounge Deal With Accor

The Qantas Group has reported that their recovery is gaining speed and the Group’s domestic capacity is expected to exceed 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels in Q4 2021. The company has also signed a new seven-year lounge management deal with Accor.


Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner - Courtesy Qantas

On Thursday (April 15, 2021), Qantas Group announced that their recovery is gaining momentum and they will now offer 90 percent of their pre-pandemic domestic capacity during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021. Jetstar’s capacity will exceed 100 percent of pre-pandemic levels due to strong leisure demand, and all Qantas and Jetstar domestic crewmembers are back at work. As part of their recovery strategy, the company will focus on cash positive flying over profit margins, thereby delivering more low fares to help drive demand. Growing domestic demand and the opening of a two-way bubble with New Zealand are helping to accelerate the airline’s recovery. Qantas hopes to resume the rest of their international network by October 2021. Additionally, the airline will soon reopen their premium lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.


In Thursday’s announcement, Qantas Group’s CEO, Alan Joyce, said,


“We’re now seeing really positive signs of sustained recovery. This is the longest run of relative stability we’ve had with domestic borders for over a year and it’s reflected in the strong travel demand we saw over Easter and the forward bookings that are flowing in each week from all parts of the market. The Australian Government’s half-price fares program is having a direct and indirect impact on the sector. The direct response to the program has been fantastic, with over 250,000 fares sold in the first two weeks.


“Indirectly, we saw a big spike in travel demand before the fares even went on sale because the announcement itself gave people confidence, which is something that had been missing for months. Corporate travel, including the small business segment, is now back to around 65 per cent of pre-COVID levels, and increasing month-on-month. The two-way bubble with New Zealand is great news for the tourism sector as a whole. It means we can bring other parts of our business out of hibernation, like our aircraft and First lounges in Australia.


“The increased domestic flying and resumption of flights across the Tasman are also helping get more of our people back to work. It’s important to keep this uptick in perspective. We are still facing a massive financial loss this year, which will be the second one in a row. We’ve lost more than $11 billion in revenue since the pandemic started and that number will keep growing until international travel recovers. We’ve used debt and shareholder equity to get through to this point, and our people have had the benefit of direct government support, which continues for those still stood down due to international border closures.


“As the recent lockdown in Brisbane showed, airlines and many other sectors remain vulnerable to snap travel restrictions until Australia’s vaccination rollout is complete. The vaccination program is absolutely key to restarting international flights in and out of Australia. While there have clearly been some speedbumps with the vaccine rollout, we are still planning for international flights to resume in late October. We remain in regular dialogue with the Government.”

To meet growing low-fare leisure demand in Australia, Jetstar will deploy six Airbus A320s on loan from Jetstar Japan. Additionally, Jetstar will deploy up to five Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, usually flown internationally, on domestic routes from mid-year until international flying returns. The 335-seat 787-8s will initially be flown between Melbourne/Sydney-Gold Coast and Melbourne/Sydney-Cairns. Alliance Airlines will also operate three Embraer E190s from May to provide added capacity on existing Qantas routes in Northern and Central Australia.


During the fiscal fourth quarter, 90 percent of the Qantas fleet will be active, compared to just 25 percent at the height of the national lockdown in mid-2020. All of Qantas’ 787-9s have been reactivated and are currently operating repatriation flights on behalf of the Australian Government, as well as some cargo-only flights.


Qantas First Lounge, Sydney - Courtesy Qantas

In a separate press release today (April 15, 2021), Qantas announced the signing of a new seven-year deal with Accor to manage Qantas lounges. As previously mentioned, Qantas will reopen international lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane when the trans-Tasman bubble starts on April 19, 2021. The new agreement is an extension of the company’s existing 14-year partnership with Accor, providing world-class service across the airline’s network of domestic and international lounges.


In today’s announcement, Accor Pacific’s CEO, Simon McGrath, said,


“Customers will continue to enjoy an unrivalled standard of service from our two much-loved brands. In Qantas we have an innovative tourism leader at our side; together we share a commitment to creating exceptional and memorable travel experiences on land and in the air.”

Qantas lounges have been managed by Accor since 2007, when the carrier opened their flagship International First lounges in Australia, followed by Domestic Business lounges, Chairmans Lounges and Qantas Club in 2013. While usually reserved for only Platinum Frequent Flyers, Qantas will welcome Business Class travelers, Gold Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members to visit the First Lounge until the neighboring Business lounges reopen. Since Qantas’ lounges in New Zealand are currently closed, Platinum and Gold Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members can enjoy Air New Zealand Lounges in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.


First Lounge guests will be offered an a-la-carte dining experience designed by Neil Perry, featuring popular menu items such as salt and pepper squid with green chili dipping sauce, healthy Bircher muesli for breakfast, the signature pavlova and menu highlights from other lounges.


Qantas has reopened nearly all of their 35 Qantas Club, Business and Chairmans lounges across Australia and the remainder of the airline’s international lounges in Australia and overseas will reopen when the remainder of their international network is restored. Eligible paid Qantas Club memberships have been automatically extended for an extra six months for memberships with an anniversary between March 23, 2020 and February 2024. Additionally, Qantas Frequent Flyer has extended member tier status for 12 months.


Source: Qantas

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