Qantas, Air New Zealand to boost domestic capacity as restrictions ease
Published: Jun 04, 2020 03:03 PM

File Photo of Qantas: Xinhua

 Australia's Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand on Thursday outlined plans for significant boosts to domestic capacity as pandemic-related travel restrictions ease, sending their shares higher.

Qantas said it would lift domestic capacity to 15 percent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of June, up from 5 percent now.

The airline said more flights are likely in July depending on travel demand and further opening of state borders, with the ability to increase to up to 40 percent of pre-crisis capacity by the end of July.

Air New Zealand said it would raise domestic capacity to 55 percent of normal levels during July and August, up from 20 percent after a strict nationwide lockdown was lifted in May.

Qantas shares were trading 5 percent higher at 2:40 am (GMT), while Air New Zealand shares were up 4.8 percent. Australia and New Zealand have both reported few new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said there was pent-up demand for domestic air travel.

"We are already seeing a big increase in customers booking and planning flights in the weeks and months ahead,�?he said in a statement.

The initial Qantas increase equates to more than 300 return flights a week.

Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, allowed residents to travel for leisure within the state from June 1.

Qantas and low-cost arm Jetstar are adding flights from Sydney to Ballina, near the popular tourist destination of Byron Bay in the state's north, with Jetstar advertising flexible one-way sale fares from 35 Australian dollars ($24.13).

But Queensland, a favored destination in the southern hemisphere winter due to its warmer weather, has so far kept it state borders closed.

Joyce said Qantas could ramp up flying quickly in time for the July school holidays if border restrictions eased.