There has not been much good news for Qantas of late culminating in their announced loss of $1 billion for the first 6 months of the financial year announced last month. However, these past few weeks there has been some blue sky for Qantas.

First was the Federal Governments post-JobKeeper $1.2 billion aviation and tourism rescue package designed to stimulate domestic travel and help the airlines retain skilled workers until the COVID vaccine rollout is complete. Under the Government’s rescue plan travellers will enjoy 50 per cent discounts on domestic fares to 13 tourism-dependent regions, such as the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Alice Springs, Broome, and Launceston. Qantas will also receive retention payments to partly subsidise the wages of international aviation employees and ensure planes are flight-ready in anticipation of overseas travel resuming when the vaccination rollout finishes. The $500 a week wage payment will be received by more than 7000 Qantas cabin crew, pilots and engineers and will continue until late October, when borders are tipped to reopen.

Second, Qantas has begun trialling the CommonPass smartphone digital health passport app. The app connects customers to certified testing labs so results can be uploaded to their phone. Passengers can show border officials proof of a negative COVID test result and vaccination before their flight to satisfy the health screening requirements of a country they want to enter. This technology is crucial to Qantas resuming international travel by late October.

Third, the nation’s competition watchdog (ACCC) has dismissed claims Qantas is attempting to push other airlines out of the domestic market with predatory behaviour. The competition watchdog has been granted extra powers by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to monitor the sector, during the pandemic. Rex has heavily criticised Qantas over its recent expansion into 26 regional domestic routes to exploit the local travel market while international travel remains grounded because of COVID-19. Rex has indicated it will cross-subsidise routes as it takes on Qantas in the so-called golden triangle of Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane. The ACCC decided that Rex’s plans to enter additional routes did not suggest that Qantas is impeding Rex from competing.

Fourth, figures just released show that Qantas claimed 74 per cent of the domestic aviation market in December, a significant increase on its pre-COVID share of 60 per cent.

Source: Qantas successfully trials CommonPass COVID app by Robyn Ironside The Australian March 12th, ACCC rules out Rex claim that Qantas’s domestic expansion is anti-competitive by Gerard Cockburn The Australian March 17th, Ongoing wage support for airlines by Robyn Ironside The Australian March 18th.

 

David Broadbridge

David Broadbridge holds a Bachelor of Commerce at the UNSW and a Dip Ed at UNE. He is the former Head Business Studies teacher at Pymble Ladies College. Follow David on Twitter or read his Qantas News Blog.