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Qantas to put A380s back in the air

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Qantas A380
Qantas A380

Qantas aims to resume flights to the UK in December using the A380 superjumbo to meet "pent-up demand" for travel to and from Australia.

The airline said it was readying to start flying to "Covid-safe" countries in time for Christmas, including Britain, the United States, Canada, Japan and Singapore.

Under Australia's phased reopening plan, citizens will finally be able to travel abroad again when 80pc of the eligible population are vaccinated - a target that is expected to be reached in December.

Qantas has told its 26,000 workers that they must be double vaccinated against coronavirus or risk being sacked.

Amid an expected surge in demand to fly, Qantas plans to bring five of its A380 planes back into service next year on the Los Angeles and London routes.

When it mothballed the huge Airbus jets last year in the wake of the pandemic, the airline had expected them to stay grounded for at least three years.

Alan Joyce, the chief executive, pointed to "huge pent-up demand" to fly again, saying appetite to travel overseas was running at three times normal levels.

In a swipe at the Australian government's "zero Covid" policy, he said: "Public sentiment is changing dramatically. People are saying ‘we need to have a path out of Covid, a path back to our pre-Covid lives’.”

Mr Joyce made the comments as Qantas reported a pre-tax loss of A$1.8bn (£970m) for the year to June, meaning the past two years have proved the worst on record for the airline.

By the end of this year the pandemic is expected to have cost Qantas A$20bn in lost revenue.

Mr Joyce said: "This loss shows the impact that a full year of closed international borders and more than 330 days of domestic travel restrictions had on the national carrier. The trading conditions have frankly been diabolical."

Australia has recently been racked by an outbreak of the delta variant of Covid, with both Sydney and Melbourne going back into lockdown.

Several airlines have the A380 in their fleets including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. However, almost all have mothballed the superjumbos since the pandemic struck, with the exception of Emirates and China Southern.

In early 2019 Airbus said it planned to stop producing the A380 due to dwindling orders.

Separately, Air New Zealand reduced its net loss by a third to NZ$289m (£147m) for the year to June as strong domestic and cargo demand partially offset the impact of the pandemic.

Border closures meant revenue almost halved to NZ$2.5bn.

Therese Walsh, the airline's chairman, said the loss reflected its inability to operate two-thirds of its passenger network.

The company said the New Zealand government was committed to remaining a majority shareholder after a planned capital raising, which has now been deferred to early 2022.

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