Qantas has posted an annual loss of £1bn as it wrestles with the global travel havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Australian airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce said trading conditions were the worst in the carrier’s 100-year history, with COVID-19 having “punched” a £2.2bn hole in its revenue.
With international routes not due to reopen until the middle of next year and state border closures hampering a recovery in the domestic aviation market, he also warned of a significant loss in the current financial year.
The firm has previously announced plans to slash 6,000 jobs – a fifth of its workforce – as part of its efforts to weather the coronavirus storm, which has hammered the industry due to the imposition of travel restrictions.
Mr Joyce said in a statement: “The impact of COVID on all airlines is clear. It’s devastating and it will be a question of survival for many.
“Recovery will take time and it will be choppy.”
He added: “This is clearly not a standard set of results for the Qantas Group.
“It’s been shaped by the extraordinary events that have made for the worst trading conditions in our 100-year history. To put it simply, we’re an airline that can’t really fly to many places at least for now.”
However, he went on: “Despite the recent setbacks, we know conditions will ultimately improve and the hard decisions we’ve made so far about making sure the Qantas Group is ready to take part in that recovery.”
With the airline running only 20% of its usual domestic schedule in August, Mr Joyce argued for a more flexible approach being taken towards internal travel bans in order to boost business.
He also did not expect international routes to reopen until the middle of next year, with US flights possibly not being resumed until a vaccine became widely available.
He said: “New Zealand is an obvious example that should potentially open up relatively fast compared to the other countries around the world.
“The US, with the level of prevalence there, is probably going to take some time. It’s probably going to need a vaccine before we could see that happening.
“We potentially could see a vaccine by the middle or the end of next year and countries like the US may be the first country to have widespread use of that vaccine, so that could mean that the US is seen as a market by the end of ’21.”
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