Qantas, Jetstar, Air New Zealand To Add More Domestic Capacity As Travel Restrictions Are Lifted

The Australian flag carrier, Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand on Thursday, 4 June said they would add capacity on their domestic routes as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions eased in some areas. Qantas said it would lift domestic capacity to 15 percent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of June, up from 5 percent now.

While Air New Zealand said it would raise its domestic capacity to 55 percent of normal levels during July and August, up from 20 percent after a strict nationwide lockdown was lifted in May. The initial Qantas increase equates to more than 300 return flights a week.

Qantas and low-cost arm Jetstar are adding flights from Sydney to Ballina, near the popular tourist destination of Byron Bay in the state’s north, with Jetstar advertising flexible one-way sale fares from A$35 (US$24.13). Queensland, a favoured destination in the southern hemisphere winter due to its warmer weather, has so far kept it state borders closed.

As part of the Qantas Group’s ‘Fly Well’ program, Qantas and Jetstar will have a range of measures in place from 12 June 2020 to ensure a safe environment at airports and on-board aircraft and to give customers extra peace of mind. This includes contact-less check-in, enhanced cleaning, and masks and sanitising wipes provided to all customers.

“We know there is a lot of pent-up demand for air travel and we are already seeing a big increase in customers booking and planning flights in the weeks and months ahead,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said. “We are gradually adding flights in June as demand levels increase, which will go from 5 percent of pre-crisis levels currently to 15 percent by late June. We can quickly ramp up flying in time for the July school holidays if border restrictions have eased more by then. Normally, we plan our capacity months in advance, but in the current climate we need to be flexible to respond to changing restrictions and demand levels.”

Air New Zealand said it plans to operate around 55 percent of its usual domestic capacity (compared to pre-COVID-19 levels) during July and August. Since the start of Alert Level 2 the airline has been flying to the majority of the domestic ports it serviced pre-Covid-19, albeit with reduced frequencies.

Its Timaru-Wellington and Taupo-Auckland routes will also resume.

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