Qantas is prepared to scale up its domestic flights to 40 per cent of pre-pandemic capacity by the end of July.
The airline said capacity of its domestic and regional routes, and those of budget carrier Jetstar, will increase to 15 per cent of pre-coronavirus levels – a jump of more than 300 return flights a week – by the end of June.
But it could be back to 40 per cent of pre-crisis domestic capacity by the end of July, depending on demand and further relaxation of state borders.
“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 chief executive Alan Joyce said.
Australia’s flag carrier is currently flying at just 5 per cent of pre-coronavirus capacity, following government restrictions on travel. In mid-March, in the early days of the pandemic, it stood down two-thirds of its 30,000-member workforce until the end of June.
The increased number of flights means some Qantas staff will return to work. However, the airline said on Thursday that the majority would remain stood down.
Qantas will boost services on capital city routes, particularly Melbourne-Sydney and several routes to and from Canberra.
It will also increase intrastate flights for Western Australia, Queensland, NSW and South Australia.
- See a full breakdown of the extra Qantas and Jetstar flights here
Qantas said it would also begin flying from Sydney to Byron Bay. The launch of that route was postponed due to the coronavirus.
“We can quickly ramp up flying in time for the July school holidays if border restrictions have eased more by then,” Mr Joyce said.
“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.”
Qantas and Jetstar passengers will also notice changes at airports and on board planes due the coronavirus measures.
The airline’s “Fly Well”, program includes measures such as contactless check-in, enhanced cleaning, and masks and sanitising wipes provided to all customers.