15/04/2021 - 11:00

Qantas, Virgin take path to recovery

15/04/2021 - 11:00

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Australia’s major airlines have taken precarious steps towards ramping up operations, with Virgin targeting a return to 80 per cent of its pre-pandemic domestic capacity by June.

Qantas, Virgin take path to recovery
Virgin Australia reshuffled its leadership team in January. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Australia’s major airlines have taken precarious steps towards ramping up operations, with Virgin targeting a return to 80 per cent of its pre-pandemic domestic capacity by June.

That announcement comes on the same day as Qantas Airways extended its contract with Accor for management of its lounges.

Virgin Australia Holdings, which reshuffled its executive team in January and hired several outsiders for key operational, corporate affairs and finance management roles, this morning announced it would reintroduce 10 additional Boeing 737-800 aircrafts.

Jayne Hrdlicka, who took over as managing director in November, said the company had seen positive signs of recovery in flight bookings and that she hoped domestic border closures would soon be a thing of the past.

“More aircraft means more flying, and with easing travel restrictions, there are more opportunities to further support domestic tourism and the nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19,” she said.

“All of this will provide much-needed certainty for hundreds of our team members, who through no fault of their own, were required to give up their jobs because of the extraordinary impacts of the pandemic.”

Ms Hrdlicka’s comments come as Qantas chief Alan Joyce this morning boasted of nabbing 30 corporate clients from Virgin in recent months.

Mr Joyce had also entertained the possibility of international travel resuming by October; however, the federal government has declined to commit to a timeline for when the country will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and ergo allow for a relaxing of international borders.

Scott Morrison had told an audience in Perth yesterday that it was possible to have the population vaccinated by the end of the year if the country can secure 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Still, Health Minister Greg Hunt has cast doubt on whether a fully vaccinated population would allow for an immediate relaxing of border restrictions.

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