Weekly Wrap – 26 August

THE last week of August proved to be a turbocharged week for the aviation industry, with Qantas hopping into the spotlight this week to serve up a flurry of big announcements, including its first full-year profit since the pandemic. The Aussie flag carrier raked in statutory after-tax net profit of $1.74 billion, with the robust result enabling it to pour billions of dollars into its fleet via an order for 24 new planes. The airline also kicked off a mega sale, offering significantly discounted fares to destinations across Australia and the globe.

It wasn’t all good news for the Flying Kangaroo though, with Sydney-based firm Echo Law initiating a class action lawsuit over the carrier’s handling of COVID-19 credits, which it argues “took advantage of its customers”. Qantas also faced criticism from the Transport Workers’ Union of Australia, who labelled the airline’s FY23 profit as “dirty money” resulting from the exploitation of its workforce.

Three other Aussie airlines featured in the news this week as well, including Bonza, which announced its Tasmanian debut with year-round flights between the Gold Coast and Launceston to take off from 21 November. Virgin Australia kicked off its partnership with Luxury Escapes, allowing its loyalty members to earn points when they book holidays with the OTA. Unfortunately, Virgin was the tardiest airline in July, according to new data from BITRE. Rex, however, soared ahead as the country’s best-performing carrier for the month. Across the ditch, Air New Zealand is set to boost capacity on its regional, Tasman and Pacific Island routes with the delivery of four new aircraft from next year, while at the same time posting strong financial results for FY23, which saw a 170% rise in its net profit after tax compared to the previous year.

Figures from BITRE also revealed that airports across Australia are getting busier, with passenger numbers almost doubling in February compared to last year. While international airlines made up more than 2.4 million pax carried in and out of the country (up a whopping 457% from last year), a study from YouGov showed that more Aussies are opting for a domestic trip instead of an overseas holiday, with only 21% saying they will travel abroad before the end of the year.

Other notable travel industry announcements include a new offering from Webjet, which this week unveiled its Multi-City flights technology, designed to help make it easier to book multiple flights in one go. Meanwhile, Corporate Travel Management (CTM) posted a Net Profit After Tax of $92.5 million – a massive increase from the $19.8 it recorded in the year prior – with MD Jamie Pherous expecting the strong momentum to continue into FY24. At the same time, the business travel management company also released its FY23 Sustainability Report, providing an update on its “substantial progress” in key areas of social and environmental responsibility.

There was also plenty of news floating around in the cruise sector this week, with Carnival Corporation President Australia Marguerite Fitzgerald stepping down after serving in the role for nearly 18 months in order to focus on family. Manning the helm in the interim is Peter Little, P&O Cruises Australia Senior Vice President Guest Experience, who has held several leadership positions with Carnival in Australia and the UK. This week Carnival, along with the wider Australian cruise industry, has praised the NSW Government’s “common-sense” decision to scrap the remaining COVID-19 restrictions. While no official date has been named yet, mask-wearing, proof of vaccination, and COVID testing will soon be a thing of the past for cruise-going Australians.

Excitement continued for the sector this week with the revival of Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) Cruiseabout brand in Australia, which has been out of action for five years. A call centre dedicated to the refreshed brand will open on the Gold Coast toward the end of the year, along with online booking capabilities and a national retail shop network, which will debut in Sydney before rolling out to other capital cities in 2024. According to FCTG’s Chief Executive Officer Leisure, James Kavanagh, the Cruiseabout brand will address a gap in the fly-cruise market. Rounding out the big news in cruise is APT Travel Group’s announcement of two new ships to serve the European river cruise market, which construction of the vessels to begin in 2025.

And with that, I wish you all a wonderful weekend!


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