Qantas reveals first routes for planned return of international flights in December

Qantas is planning to restart some international travel before Christmas after it posted a $1.7 billion after-tax loss for the financial year.

The Australian airline – badly hit by the COVID-19 restrictions on travel – today said its underlying loss before tax for the last financial year was $1.83 billion and the statutory loss was $2.35 billion.

The airline estimated the revenue impact from the COVID-19 pandemic was $12 billion.

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"This loss shows the impact that a full year of closed international borders and more than 330 days of domestic travel restrictions had on the national carrier," Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce said.

"The trading conditions have frankly been diabolical."

But Mr Joyce said despite the challenging trading conditions, Qantas was planning to resume domestic and some international flights when higher COVID-19 vaccination targets are achieved.

"It's obviously up to government exactly how and when our international borders re-open, but with Australia on track to meet the 80 per cent trigger agreed by National Cabinet by the end of the year, we need to plan ahead for what is a complex restart process," he said.

Qantas said the initial routes planned were for destinations with high COVID-19 vaccination rates, with flights to resume by mid-December 2021.

They include Singapore, the US, Japan, UK and Canada.

It also expects the New Zealand travel bubble will resume in some form by mid-December.

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Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce

The airline said it was hoping to relaunch flights to Hong Kong in February and the rest of the Qantas and Jetstar international network was set to open up from April 2022, with capacity increasing gradually.

But Qantas flights to major cities in countries with low vaccination rates will be pushed out to April 2022.

They include some favourites for Australian tourists such as Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg.

Qantas says due to the expected high demand from Australians for flights to London, it is considering making Darwin a new transit point.

The plan is partly driven by the harsh border policies in Western Australia.

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"The airline is investigating using Darwin as a transit point, which has been Qantas' main entry for repatriation flights, as an alternative (or in addition) to its existing Perth hub given conservative border policies in Western Australia," a statement read.

In the domestic market, Qantas endured a stop-start year.

Qantas and its budget airline Jetstar were operating close to their pre-pandemic domestic capacity in May when state borders were open.

But it was again forced to halt flights when NSW and Victoria returned to lockdown when it stood down 2500 staff.

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