Australia to stay closed until mid-2021 as Qantas sinks to huge loss

Linda J. Dodson

The boss of Qantas is not expecting international travel to and from Australia to restart until mid-2021 after the airline sunk to its first annual loss in six years.

Alan Joyce said routes to the US could stay closed for even longer and only open to overseas airlines once a vaccine has been developed and distributed. 

The Government has said Australia will not reopen to foreign travellers until a vaccine is found. 

Next year “is going to be another bad year – recovery will take time and it will be choppy”, Mr Joyce added.

Qantas sunk to a A$2.7bn (£1.4bn) pre-tax loss, most of which reflected the costs of mothballing 100 aircraft and redundancy payouts following a “near-total collapse” in demand due to the pandemic. It suffered a $4bn hit to revenue from the crisis in the first half of the year.

“We were on track for another profit above A$1bn when this crisis struck,” Mr Joyce said.

The airline managed a A$124m pre-tax profit on an underlying basis, down 91pc, due to a strong first half.

Qantas said “fast action to radically cut costs and place much of the flying business into a form of hibernation” helped minimise the financial impact of the shutdown.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty, the airline said it remained “well positioned” to take advantage of the eventual return to air travel.

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