Qantas has become the latest airline to experience a slowdown in bookings, especially for international routes, due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The Australian carrier said it held “significant levels” of domestic bookings during the Christmas summer season and the southern hemisphere, fueled by the lifting in recent weeks of extended restrictions on coronaviruses across the country which triggered a pent-up demand.
That momentum, however, “slowed down in late November due to uncertainty over the Omicron variant, but there has been recent improvement,” the airline said in a market update Thursday local time.
Qantas said it had experienced “extremely high” booking levels for new routes to Delhi from Sydney and Melbourne. However, he warned that there was a “significant drop” in the momentum of bookings for overseas flights after the discovery of the latest worrying variant of the coronavirus.
“The announcement of the Omicron variant had a clear impact on people’s confidence to book international travel in particular, but we haven’t seen a large number of cancellations. Many customers have strong intentions to travel if the border and quarantine settings are correct and over the past few days we have seen intakes improve, ”said Alan Joyce, Managing Director.
Qantas said it had to adjust the restart schedule for several overseas routes, including Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Shanghai, in response to their extended border restrictions and had suspended the restart of flights to San Francisco from Sydney and Brisbane.
The airline said the surge in its international capacity had been slowed by these and other factors and now expected capacity to be at the lower end of forecast for it to be. from 40 to 55% of pre-Covid levels by the end of its fiscal year next June.
Qantas also announced that it has chosen Airbus as its preferred aircraft to replace the Boeing 737s in its national fleet.