Never did we think we would hear the words “bargain flights” used in conjunction with the airline Qantas, but we guess in a coronavirus affected world anything really is possible.
While usually considered a more luxury airline, Qantas Chief Executive Alan Jones has said that they plan to offer $19 flights as they prepare for domestic travel to start up again.
Speaking on the Today Show, Mr Joyce said that he hoped states would lift their closures and that domestic travel could resume by July.
“We could be operating 40 to 50 percent of pre-COVID-19 operation in July if demand is there,” Mr Joyce said.
The bargain flights could be offered between Melbourne and Sydney in order to entice people to fly again.
“We have talked about things like offering $19 air fares between Melbourne and Sydney when we get started. We have to offer really cheap air fares to get people to overcome their reluctance around COVID-19,” Mr Joyce added.
As for international travel, Mr Joyce said he couldn’t see them travelling to anywhere other than perhaps New Zealand until well into 2021.
This comes as Qantas announced improved safety measures with their ‘Fly Well’ program in order to put the health of travellers first.
One of Australia’s top medical advisers says Qantas has mitigated the risk of spreading the coronavirus on its planes as much as it can with its new suite of measures.
Measures include masks on board, hand-sanitising stations and enhanced aircraft cleaning, as well as more flexibility with booking cancellations.
Contactless check-in, self-service bag drops and hand-sanitising stations at departure gates will also be in place under the airline’s Fly Well program which launches on June 12.
In addition, the air-conditioning systems of all Qantas and Jetstar aircraft are already fitted with hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.9 per cent of all particles including viruses.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says discussions had been going on since January and had now concluded, with Qantas making its own risk assessment and decisions.
“They’ve made that risk assessment and they’ve mitigated as much as they can,” Professor Kelly said on Wednesday.
He said masks had not been recommended by medical experts but were included in the measures in any case.
“We didn’t specifically say they should include masks but that’s one of the ways they’ve looked at how they can decrease the risk whilst also looking to have a viable industry and to be able to fly,” he said.
Ventilation on the aircraft was “safer than a closed room”, but “probably not as safe as an outdoor cafe”, he said.
“But, look, we live in a very big country. We do need our aircraft to get around … and we do want our airline industry back on their feet,” he said.
Prof Kelly said passengers should ensure they don’t travel if they are sick.
The Fly Well program is due to be reviewed after one month.