Business & Economy

Australian flag carrier celebrates centenary amid pandemic

Sydney, Australia, Nov 16 (efe-epa).- Australia’s flag carrier Qantas on Monday celebrated 100 years since its founding, while looking to an uncertain future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pummeled global commercial aviation.

Due to travel restrictions and border closures, Qantas reported losses of A$4 billion ($2.9 billion) in revenue in the first few months of the pandemic to June 30 alone.

The poor results came after the airline grounded about 100 planes in June due to the cancellation of nearly all of its international flights, and reduced its domestic operations to 20 percent of pre-coronavirus crisis levels.

The airline, which operates 80 per cent of its flights within Australia, in August also announced plans to cut 2,500 jobs at Qantas and its low-cost subsidiary JetStar, adding to the 6,000 job cuts already announced in June.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce recalled Monday that the airline had been developing nonstop long-haul flights from Australia to New York and London before the pandemic hit.

But he added that, as a result of the closure of international borders and travel restrictions in Australia due to the health crisis, the challenge this year has been to fly between Sydney and Melbourne or to other state capitals of the Oceanian country.

Australia banned travel between states, but recently it has begun to relax travel restrictions, after bringing the second COVID-19 outbreak, in the city of Melbourne at the end of June, under control with a hard lockdown.

Joyce also remarked that throughout 2020 Qantas has made more than 100 repatriation flights flown by volunteer crew “for the federal government to bring people home from COVID hotspots.”

Authorities have created a one-way air corridor from New Zealand and plan to create other travel bubbles with Asian countries that maintain low coronavirus infection numbers.

Qantas, an acronym for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, was founded by Australian Flying Corps veterans Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness along with grazier Fergus McMaster in the remote outback town of Winton, Queensland, after the end of the WWI.

The celebrations for the centenary of the airline, considered one of the safest in the world, were limited by COVID-19 to an overflight of Sydney Harbour. EFE-EPA


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