Leisure leading Qantas rebound with business travel close to pre-Covid levels

Qantas reported travel demand remaining strong across all sectors, with leisure continuing to lead and business travel now approaching pre-Covid levels.

Intent to spend on travel among frequent flyers over the next six months remains “significantly higher” than most other major spending categories.

The projection came despite Qantas Group first half profits dropping 13% to A$1.25 billion (£649 million) following continued investment in customers and new aircraft.

Lower fares contributed to reduced revenue per available seat kilometre which had around a A$600 million impact on profit. 

Total flying increased by 25% and the group carried 3.3 million more passengers compared with the same period a year earlier. 

Qantas increased international capacity by 39% in the six months as an additional Airbus A380 superjumbo returned to flying and one new Boeing 787 entered service. 

All pre-Covid international routes have now restarted and new ones were announced, including Perth-Paris. 

The group is providing a A$500 staff travel credit to around 24,000 employees.

The existing fleet of international aircraft will be retrofitted with fast and free wi-fi, with the service due to be progressively switched on from the end of 2024, which coincides with a new satellite launching that will “significantly expand” coverage, according to chief executive Vanessa Hudson.

New aircraft currently on order, including A350s and Boeing 787s, will be wi-fi capable when delivered.

A multi-million dollar investment in new technology over three years will include a complete overhaul of the Qantas website from mid-2024 and more functionality on the airline’s app, improved status updates during disruptions.

Hudson said: “We know that millions of Australians rely on us and we’ve heard their feedback loud and clear.

“There’s a lot of work happening to lift our service levels and the early signs are really positive. Our customer satisfaction scores have bounced back strongly since December and we have more service and product improvements in the pipeline.

“Having the financial strength to keep investing is key, and that makes the strong performance that all business units had in the first half so important.

“We understand the need for affordable air travel and fares have fallen more than 10% since peaking in late 2022. 

“At the same time, we’ve seen a cost benefit from fewer cancellations and delays, and scale benefits as more international flying returns.”

“Our people have been instrumental in the initial recovery we’re seeing and I thank them sincerely. The journey we’re on will take time, but the spirit they are bringing is fantastic and it’s made us optimistic about what we can achieve together.

“I want to thank our customers and our partners for their support as we keep working to make the Qantas Group an organisation that everyone is proud of. We need to deliver a service that is consistently better in order to succeed long term, and that’s what we’re focussed on,” added Ms Hudson.

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