Qantas cuts domestic capacity; Perth-London route ‘under review’ due to WA border restrictions

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New New SingaporeAustralian flag carrier Qantas announced this week it “has reviewed its domestic capacity settings given the decision by the Western Australian government to indefinitely delay reopening its borders”. As a result, Qantas will reduce its planned domestic capacity by approximately 10 percent from 5 February through to 31 March 2022. This is calculated on an available seat kilometre basis and reflects the long sector lengths of trans-continental flights. The airline also said its popular Perth-London route, which it had planned to restart in March, is now “under review” with no clear time on when it will restart.

Though at a fraction of its pre-COVID levels, Qantas will maintain core connections between Perth and the rest of Australia, with up to 15 flights per week from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Darwin, supporting essential personnel and freight.

“The group retains the flexibility to adjust flying levels depending on demand and clarity on border re-opening in the weeks and months ahead,” Qantas said in announcing the new cuts.

“Further to the capacity update provided by the group last week – which identified the Western Australia border opening as a swing factor on its forward expectations – this takes total group domestic capacity for the third quarter of FY22 to approximately 60 percent of pre-COVID levels. A further update will be provided at the group’s half year results in late February,” Qantas said.

Qantas also announced recently it was seeking to terminate its long-haul cabin crew agreement and ditch what the airline calls “restrictive and outdated rostering processes”. The moves because crew on Qantas long-haul flights under the current agreement are limited to working on Airbus A330s only, or on Airbus A380s and Boeing 787s only. Airline officials say they need to have crew be able to fly on all three types in order for Qantas International to deal with the COVID pandemic and its effects on international aviation.

Qantas said in a statement that this is the first time it has sought to terminate an enterprise agreement and that no job losses would occur as a result. It follows six months of negotiation with the Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia (FAAA) and other bargaining representatives for a new enterprise agreement that was rejected by both the union and 97 percent of crew who voted.

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