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Qantas Group and Virgin Australia Increase Flights
As flying programs across the globe get cut due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one airline group will be increasing the number of flights operated. The Qantas Group has announced it will be adding additional flights to its schedule in cooperation with the Australian government. The group will be part of a minimum domestic and regional route network devised by the government. All three Qantas Group airlines; Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar, will operate flights within the network.
The route network will see the number of flights increase from 105 per week to 164 per week and will connect all the state capitals in the country as well as 36 regional destinations that are more than two hours’ drive away from a transport hub. The new flight schedule will begin on April 17 and be at full capacity by April 20.
The airline admits that commercial passenger flights aren’t financially viable. However, the size of Australia and the distance between cities makes air travel necessary for those who do need to travel. Despite the lack of passengers, Qantas expects the aircraft’s cargo holds to be utilized for necessary cargo transport including mail and medical equipment around the country. The flights will be operated by a mix of Airbus A330, A320, Boeing 737, and DeHavilland Dash 8 aircraft.
In addition to flights operated by Qantas, the government will also subsidize Virgin Australia to operate flights within the minimum route network. The airline had grounded its fleet as a result of the pandemic, however, will again take to the skies. This week, the airline operated a flight from Paris to Brisbane recording a flight time of 19 hours and 43 minutes as the Boeing 777-300(ER) covered the 9,888 nautical mile journey. The outbound journey had routed via Auckland and Hong Kong to repatriate French nationals back to their homeland, before later returning to Australia loaded up with medical supplies.
The current government plan will see the route network operated for the next two months. It plans to spend AU$165 million on operating the network, having already pledged close to AU$1 billion for the aviation industry in the country.
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