QF: Case for ultra long flights will be strong once borders open

QF: Case for ultra long flights will be strong once borders open

Despite QF’s ultra-long haul flights, dubbed Project Sunrise, currently being shelved, Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce predicts that when borders open it will be the type of service to resonate even more with passengers.

‘There is likely to be a stronger business case for flights like Sydney / Melbourne to London or New York, without the necessity to stop anywhere on the way.’

Joyce was one of the key speakers at the CAPA Centre for Aviation virtual summit last week.

He accepts that the airline, like the rest of the industry, is in survival mode but expresses confidence that it will ‘be around for another 100 years’.

He also sees reasons to be optimistic both in terms of the airlines’ business and overall health developments.

‘We are seeing good opportunities in our loyalty programme, the freight business and the fly in-fly out resort sector business in Western Australia. However we are forecasting that we won’t see substantial international flying until July 2021, when we will be looking to start up again with our 787s. We are parking our A380s for three years – we don’t see demand there until 2023-24.’

Joyce says he is encouraged by advances in testing, tracking and tracing. ‘Some testing is underway where a result is through in 15 minutes – they can test whether you have been in contact with Covid. This is developing at
a rapid rate so that gives me hope that we will get through
this faster.’

He says the key to recovery is to be clear on safety definitions and standards. ‘Scientific information is not being used in decisions about when borders should open or close. At the moment economies are on life support – that will have to stop and governments will have to start working on these issues. A starting point has to be travel between places where the prevalence of the virus is comparable and where mechanisms can be put in place to allow people to travel with confidence.

‘The (Australian) Federal Government and New Zealand Government seem to be open to that and could be the first to have a system along these lines.’

Joyce thinks predictions of corporate travel stagnating are probably over cooked. ‘Government travel is growing, and conferences will come back. There
is nothing like face to face meetings with your teams, or a supplier meeting a customer. There will be a hit but not as dire as people are suggesting.’

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