Qantas anticipates international capacity will return to pre-pandemic levels around the middle of 2023, amid “strong robust demand” as borders reopen.
Airline chief executive Alan Joyce disclosed this at a press briefing on the even of the IATA AGM, where the airline announced a joint partnership with Airbus to develop a sustainable aviation fuels industry in Australia.
Asked to comment on the return of travel demand, Joyce notes that the “main issue” is a lack of capacity. The airline is operating at around 50% pre-Covid-19 capacity, and expects to increased this to reach 85% by year-end.
The airline’s previously-disclosed international capacity forecast was around 70% by end-September.
The “really strong demand”, particularly for international flights, is helping to drive up yields and offset rising fuel prices, he adds.
On the domestic network, Joyce says demand is already surging ahead of pre-pandemic levels. Leisure travel, in particular, is now at 120% pre-Covid-19 levels.
However, he warns that “there may have to be a bit less capacity” to absorb the steep increase in fuel prices. “We are working through that at the moment,” he adds.
The airline has in recent months been restoring its international network, as Covid-19 restrictions ease across the world.
In late-May, it said it “ramped up significantly” trans-Tasman flights, as neighbouring New Zealand eased entry requirements.
A re-boot of Japan is in the cards with Tokyo’s lowering of travel restrictions, with Jetstar to resume its Cairns-Tokyo and Cairns-Osaka from late July. Qantas will also resume flights to Japan from September.
The airline is also in the process of bringing back its Airbus A380s, which were stored amid a collapse in demand during the pandemic.