SYDNEY, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Australia's national airline Qantas is talking up the prospects of more domestic flights and the reopening of international routes facing a couple of favorable conditions.
Qantas said on Thursday that all domestic crew for Qantas and Jetstar are now back at work, and its domestic capacity is expected to reach 90 percent of pre-COVID levels by the middle of this year, up from a previous forecast of 80 percent, and will then surpass 2019 levels of flying.
The rapid recovery in its operations was driven by the growing domestic demand, the opening of a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand and the federal government's 1.2 billion Australian dollars (about 930 million U.S. dollars) half-price airfare package.
"We're now seeing really positive signs of sustained recovery," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia also revealed its first overseas flights.
Short-haul overseas routes to Bali and the Pacific will be among the first to resume, to be followed by long-haul flights to Japan and the United States, said Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka.
Virgin said it will lease another 10 Boeing 737 aircraft to boost its domestic network growth.
Despite the positive signs, the industry is still eagerly looking forward to the international border reopening.
"We are still facing a massive financial loss this year, which will be the second one in a row. We've lost more than 11 billion Australian dollars (8.52 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue since the pandemic started and that number will keep growing until international travel recovers," Joyce said.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Acting CEO Jenny Lambert said a stronger focus should be placed on reopening international borders as domestic tourism will never make up the value of international visitors.