Qantas and Virgin to catch a break with new COVID-19 vaccine?

Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison announced plans to make a potential COVID-19 vaccine mandatory. Qantas and Virgin Australia may catch a break as the vaccine could open international borders and “return the country to normal life.”

On August 19, 2020, the Australian government signed a deal with Oxford University and a pharmaceutical juggernaut AstraZeneca to supply 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for its citizens if the vaccine successfully clears trials.

Morrison said he aimed to make the potential COVID-19 vaccine free and mandatory to “return the country to normal life.” The vaccine is expected to be compulsory for all citizens, with the exception of those who have specific medical conditions, which are yet unclear due to incomplete trial testings. The prime minister hopes for 95% of the population to be vaccinated even after considering all the anti-vaxxer movements.

This could be great news for Australia’s air carriers as the Department of Health secretary Professor Brendan Murphy claimed back in June 2020, that vaccines were essential for opening international borders.

After the Australian airlines got hit due to the Coronacrisis, and 90% of flights were cut, Qantas announced its ‘rightsize, restructure, and recapitalize’ plan in June 2020. The strategy outlined at least a twelve-month grounding of 100 aircraft from its Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 fleets. 6,000 jobs were also axed while the last of Boeing 747’s were immediately retired.

In contrast, Virgin Australia had to go into voluntary administration under a US-based investment firm Bain Capital after facing bankruptcy. The company aligned its cost with an uncertain revenue outlook as it began reviewing employee contracts to match the airline’s future size. In the end, Virgin Australia set to cut 3,000 jobs while the suspension of long-haul international flights to Los Angeles and Tokyo followed shortly after. Its low-cost subsidiary Tigerair Australia was also discontinued in the process.

Both Airlines were not expecting to recover anywhere before 2024 as forecasted by the International Air Travel Association (IATA), but the news regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccination could change that.

AeroTime News team approached both airlines for comment.


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