Qantas staff will remain stood down until the end of June with the airline extending its cancellation of flights due to the COVID-19 crisis.
And the airline is warning it could be years before demand for travel returns to normal.
Qantas and Jetstar domestic and Trans-Tasman flights had been grounded until the end of May, but with travel restrictions unlikely to be lifted anytime soon, that’s now been pushed back to the end of June.
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The cancellation of international flights has been extended until the end of July.
The airline continues to operate a very limited domestic schedule underwritten by the Federal Government.
Customers who had booked flights during that time will be contacted by the airline.
In a statement to the ASX, Qantas says the initial easing of some restrictions suggests that domestic travel may start to return before the end of July but demand will be hard to predict.
The company says it is monitoring the situation and will be able to increase capacity within a week of any announcement.
“Australia has done an amazing job of flattening the curve and we’re optimistic that domestic travel will start returning earlier than first thought, but we clearly won’t be back to pre-coronavirus levels anytime soon,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
“With the possible exception of New Zealand, international travel demand could take years to return to what it was.”
Qantas says the extended stand down of employees is “deeply regrettable” but had been “greatly softened” by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program.
The company has also confirmed it has secured another $550 million in funding against three of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, after raising $1.05 billion in March.
The current crisis is expected to cost the airline $40 million a week by the end of June.
“Our cash balance shows that we’re in a very strong position, which under the circumstances we absolutely have to be,” Mr Joyce said.
“We don’t know how long domestic and international travel restrictions will last or what demand will look like as they’re gradually lifted.
“Our ability to withstand this crisis and its aftermath is only possible because we’re tapping into a balance sheet that has taken years to build.”