Qantas Group Chairman Richard Goyder presented the proposal during the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) this morning, flagging early 2021 as a potential start date.
“By early next year, we may find that Korea, Taiwan and various islands in the Pacific are top Qantas destinations while we wait for our core international markets like the US and UK to re-open,” Mr Goyder said.
He proposed “the end of 2021” as the earliest potential start date for travel to UK and US destinations.
The Qantas Group saw revenue fall by $4 billion from April to June of this year, putting the company into “survival mode”.
Delivering his address virtually from Perth, Mr Goyder described the board’s inability to meet in person as “a symptom of the travel restrictions and border closures that continue to have a huge impact on the Qantas Group”.
He expressed frustration at Western Australia and Queensland for keeping their borders closed – decisions he suggested were based on “inertia” rather than science.
“This inertia that doesn’t seem to be based on the actual health risk,” he said.
“And that seems to ignore the broader economic and social risk involved with staying shut – especially as Federal income support winds down.”
The national carrier is set to lose another $100 million in the first financial quarter of 2020-21, as international travel remains all but grounded and domestic flights are at less than 30 per cent of capacity.
This is expected to increase to 50 per cent by Christmas if Queensland reopens its border with NSW.
A further 18,000 staff remain stood down from their duties.
However, Mr Joyce told shareholders the company’s three year recovery plan remained “on track”.
He flagged permanent structural changes to the company post-COVID, with global travel demand expected to take four years to fully recover.