Project Sunrise on ice as Qantas CEO flags big changes for 2021

Qantas “Project Sunrise” flights to New York and London have been put on hold amid the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis, with the carrier holding back on a multibillion-dollar order for new aircraft to operate the routes.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has flagged big changes afoot for the carrier as it emerges from the coronavirus travel bans, saying that it will be a much more streamlined operation in the years ahead.

“The Qantas of 2021 and 2022 will not be the Qantas of 2019,” he said. “We’re looking at the scope and scale of our businesses going forward.”

With some “light at the end of the tunnel” such as Australia and New Zealand’s commitment to opening up trans Tasman travel, Joyce also flagged slashing fares to stimulate demand in the early stages, with prices on its budget carrier Jetstar as low as $19 on its Melbourne to Sydney route.

“We’ll make sure we get as many people travelling as possible,” he said.

The carrier has enough cash to burn through $40 million a week from late June until the end of 2021 after raising a further $550 million in fresh debt, according to Joyce.

“Qantas is well positioned to pick up [market] share domestically and internationally and our intent would be to have a bigger share,” he said.

“We think we’re well positioned as one of the strongest airlines in the world and to take advantage of our strength.”