Despite the United Kingdom approving the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 and starting distribution this week, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce believes international travel will remain at a ‘standstill’ until at least July 2021.
In a Qantas market update, Mr Joyce explained that he didn’t expect international travel to improve until a significant portion of the world’s population had been vaccinated for the coronavirus.
“International travel is likely to be at a virtual standstill until at least July next year and it will take years to fully recover,” Mr Joyce said. “Overall, we’re optimistic about the recovery but we’re also cautious given the various unknowns.”
Mr Joyce explained that the enthusiasm for domestic travel, once border restrictions were lifted around the country, showed that there was significant demand for people to get travelling again.
“There’s been a rush of bookings as each border restriction lifted, showing that there’s plenty of latent travel demand,” he said.
“Between Qantas and Jetstar, there were over 200,000 fares sold for flights to Queensland in 72 hours after the border openings with Sydney and Victoria were announced.
“We’re also seeing people booking several months in advance, which reflects more confidence than we’ve seen for some time.”
The market update explains while the progress on vaccines is helpful, it is still basing assumptions on no material international travel until the end of June 2021, although it does explain that there could be an increase in trans-Tasman flying to and from New Zealand.
Last month, Mr Joyce made international headlines when he revealed having had a vaccination shot would be a requirement of travelling with Qantas when one became available.
“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions, to say for international, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before getting on the aircraft,” Mr Joyce confirmed.
“We think for international visitors coming out, and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity.”
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