Airline boss confident demand will take off
QANTAS chief executive Alan Joyce says the future of aviation for the Far North is positive - but there's two caveats.
Mr Joyce, visiting Cairns as a keynote speaker at an Advance Cairns function, said the region needed to continue to invest in quality "on the ground" experiences for visitors.
Secondly, it was important for the Far North to extend its marketing focus beyond mainland China to emerging markets, including Taiwan.
Mr Joyce also warned tourists and international students would go elsewhere with countries opening borders from October, and it was vital that Australia opened up too.
"At the end of October we should have 20 million people vaccinated - there's no reason why the international borders shouldn't reopen at that stage and we are talking about restarting Cairns to Tokyo, Osaka and Bali," he said.
"We are trying new routes. What could actually happen is markets could open like Taiwan or Korea and we have aircraft sitting around so we will try new routes like that."
He predicted it would take until 2024 for the international market to recover to 2019 passenger numbers.
With the vaccine rollout, Mr Joyce is advocating for states and territories to declare an end to state border closures by April.
Qantas cancelled 1500 flights in January when state borders closed and Mr Joyce said it was "devastating" for consumer confidence.
Qantas recorded a $1.03bn loss to December 2020, which translated to 150 jobs lost in Cairns.
Originally published as Airline boss confident demand will take off