The Qantas Group has slashed capacity as Omicron bites down under with 30 per cent of domestic and 10 per cent of international seats cut.
The Qantas Group said it now expects domestic capacity for the third quarter of FY22 to be at around 70 per cent of pre-COVID levels, down from the 102 per cent that had been planned.
It says the schedule changes are focused on reducing frequency of services and size of aircraft to minimise inconvenience for passengers as much as possible.
The Group’s total international capacity for the same period will fall from 30 per cent to around 20 per cent of pre-COVID levels.
Qantas says this reduction is driven by increased travel restrictions in countries like Japan, Thailand and Indonesia and is mostly impacting Jetstar’s leisure routes. Other markets – such as London, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Johannesburg and India – continue to perform well.
The group said that Qantas and Jetstar continue to have 100 per cent of their available Australian-based crew stood up, which has helped to minimise the resourcing impacts of some needing to self-isolate during the summer peak.
This 100 per cent crewing level will be maintained despite the capacity reductions announced today, giving both airlines a significant buffer to manage ongoing isolation requirements and resulting in a more reliable schedule for passengers.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “The sudden uptick in COVID cases is having an obvious impact on consumer behaviour across various sectors, including travel, but we know it’s temporary.
“Thankfully, Australia has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates and the Omicron variant is milder than its predecessors. So, as challenging as this current phase is, we’re optimistic that it is likely to fast track a return to normal.
“People are already looking beyond what’s happening now with early bookings for the Easter holidays in April looking promising for both domestic and international.
“We have the flexibility to add capacity back if demand improves earlier than expected, but 70 per cent still represents a lot of domestic flying and it’s a quantum improvement on the levels we faced only a few months ago.
“Our focus on cash positive flying remains, notwithstanding some of the costs that we’ll have to absorb from this sudden drop in demand.
“Can I thank our people who have done an outstanding job of helping over a million Australians travel over the summer holidays, and to our customers for their ongoing understanding as we make our way through these latest challenges. This is a difficult time right across the community, but something we’ll get through,” added Mr Joyce.
Qantas says that “to give customers more confidence when they book international and domestic flights, Qantas has extended Fly Flex, which enables customers to change their travel dates as often as they need, fee-free (a fare difference may apply).”