Bargain flights too good to be true?

Airfares between Melbourne and Sydney could fall as low as $19, hinted Qantas chief Alan Joyce, adding that cheap flights would stimulate the domestic sector by satisfying Australians’ “pent-up demand” to travel once restrictions are lifted.

“Airfares could be half of what they are today,” he said.

“For example on Melbourne-Sydney you could see Jetstar fares of $39, you could see $19 airfares and we will still cover our cash costs.”

Existing domestic flight cancellations have been extended until the end of June. International services will remain grounded until the end of July. And there is no guarantee flights will resume in August.

Governments have already begun to ease COVID-19 restrictions and travel might be permitted again before the end of July. Qantas says it can ready to fly soon after the bans are lifted and is able to get domestic flights back in the air with just a week’s notice.

Mr Joyce said Qantas is surviving and is in a strong position, even though there is no way to predict when travel restrictions would end.

alan joyce

“Australia has done an amazing job of flattening the curve and we’re optimistic that domestic travel will start returning earlier than first thought, but we clearly won’t be back to pre-coronavirus levels anytime soon,” he said.

“With the possible exception of New Zealand, international travel demand could take years to return to what it was.”

While Qantas’ suggestion of $19 Sydney to Melbourne flights has been well-received but, according to DMARGE, many are asking: where’s the catch?

“There are three reasons these $19 flights are too good to be true,” writes James Booth.

“Firstly: you can’t fly anywhere right now, with Qantas having extended domestic flight cancellations on Tuesday to continue up until the end of June. Secondly: these prices won’t last (and even while they’re on offer, they’ll be hard to get). Thirdly, if such prices did last, we would see a ‘race to the bottom’ in Australia’s domestic aviation scene.”

Booth posits that, as Mr Joyce flagged in an open letter, flights would be $39, but $19 are a possibility, but similarly to how Ryanair releases a couple of 2 euro flights when they have spare seats and want to generate a bit of free publicity.

Do you think $19 flights are too good to be true? Where will you fly when travel bans are lifted? Will you take advantage of $19 flights?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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