Qantas Group has further trimmed domestic capacity through end-March, amid an indefinitely delayed border reopening in Western Australia.
The group, comprising mainline operator Qantas and low-cost unit Jetstar, will now fly about 60% of its pre-pandemic capacity for the quarter ending 31 March. This compares to an earlier estimate of around 70%, which the group disclosed on 13 January.
The decision comes as Western Australia premier Mark McGowan said on 20 January that border reopening will be indefinitely delayed until a majority of people have received three doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
McGowan added that it was “reckless and irresponsible” to push ahead with border reopening – originally slated for early February – amid a spike in infections caused by the Omicron variant.
In a 21 January statement, Qantas Group says it will continue to maintain “core connections” with several capital cities across Australia, including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, “supporting essential personnel and freight”. In total, Qantas will operate up to 15 flights weekly out of Perth, the group adds.
“Timing to reinstate Qantas’ Perth-London route, which is currently operating via Darwin and was due to return to Western Australia in late March 2022, is under review,” the group states.
Qantas cut domestic and international capacity on 13 January, following a rise in Omicron infections. Initial forecasts state domestic capacity to be at 70% pre-pandemic levels, while international capacity will be at 20%, down from 30%.
The delay in reopening Western Australia’s borders has also led to Singapore Airlines to delay suspend quarantine-free flights from Singapore to Perth, which were slated to commence on 5 February.
However, the carrier will continue to operate quarantine-free flights – under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme – from Perth to Singapore. VTL flights to other cities in Australia will not be affected, says the airline.