Australia’s flag carrier, Qantas, is continuing to pay a huge price as the Covid-19 pandemic drags into the second half of 2021, but the airline is holding out hopes that some international flights will resume before the all-important Christmas period.
The airline, in its yearly trading update on Thursday, announced a A$2.35 billion ($1.71 billion) loss for the financial year, reports Xinhua news agency.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce emphasised that the devastating results were due to the virus which had left many of the “flying kangaroos” on the ground for months on end.
“This loss shows the impact that a full year of closed international borders and more than 330 days of domestic travel restrictions had on the national carrier,” Joyce said.
“The trading conditions have frankly been diabolical.”
He said that combined with the massive losses of 2020, Covid-19 could end up costing the company more than A$20 billion by the end of the calendar year.
The airline boss was, however, keen to note optimistic signs on the horizon.
“Despite the uncertainty that is still in front of us, we are in a far better position to manage it than this time last year,” Joyce said.
“We are a leaner and more efficient organisation. And our requirement for all employees to be vaccinated will create a safer environment for our people and customers.
“When Australia reaches those critical vaccination targets later this year and the likelihood of future lockdowns and border closures reduce, we expect to see a surge in domestic travel demand and a gradual return of international travel,” he said.
“It is obviously up to the government exactly how and when our international borders are reopened but with Australia on track to meet the 80 per cent trigger agreed by the national cabinet by the end of the year, we need to plan ahead for what is a complex restart process.”