As COVID-19 cases continue to soar across the globe, Qantas and Jetstar are reducing flight services for the second half of 2022.

The Qantas Group, which fully owns Jetstar Australia, is expecting its domestic capacity for the third quarter of the year to be at 70% of pre-COVID-19 levels. This is down from the group’s original estimated 102%. 

For international operations, the group expects demand to fall from 30% to around 20% of pre-COVID019 levels due to increased travel restrictions. Destinations with stringent arrival restrictions like Japan, Thailand and Indonesia, have the most impact on Jetstar's leisure routes.

The group said that its other markets, such as London, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Johannesburg and India, continue to perform well. 

“The sudden uptick in COVID cases is having an obvious impact on consumer behavior across various sectors, including travel, but we know it’s temporary,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a press statement.

“People are already looking beyond what’s happening now with early bookings for the Easter holidays in April looking promising for both domestic and international.

“We have the flexibility to add capacity back if demand improves earlier than expected, but 70 per cent still represents a lot of domestic flying and it’s a quantum improvement on the levels we faced only a few months ago.”

“Our focus on cash positive flying remains, notwithstanding some of the costs that we’ll have to absorb from this sudden drop in demand,” Joyce said.

Qantas said that it will assess the financial impact of the changes, which will be given at the Group’s half year results in late February 2022. By that time, the group expects that a clearer picture will have emerged on swing factors such as actual demand levels; potential loosening or tightening of travel restrictions in countries overseas; and consumer response to the reopening of Western Australia in February 2022.

Qantas added that customers whose flights and bookings are affected by the changes will be contacted, and alternate travel arrangements will be offered. The airline is also extending its FlyFlex offer so that customers can rebook flights without a change fee.

To date, Australia has had a total number of 1.5 million COVID-19 cases with over 2,500 total deaths. 

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