Qantas confirms early return of five Airbus A380s in 2021 financial results

Qantas has confirmed five of its Airbus A380 aircraft will return earlier than expected to operate flights from Australia to Los Angeles and London from mid-2022.

The announcement was made following the release of the 2021 financial results of the Qantas Group, which includes both Qantas and Jetstar.

It reported an underlying loss before tax of A$1.83 billion.

The airline plans to focus on destinations with high vaccination rates in 2022 including North America, UK, Singapore and Japan.

A total of 10 double-decker Airbus A380s with upgraded cabins will return to service, while two will be retired.

The airline group said Australia's vaccination rates appear to be on track to meet the threshold of 80 percent in December 2021, which would trigger the gradual reopening of international borders.

Qantas and Jetstar have pushed back plans to relaunch flights to destinations with low vaccination rates or high levels of COVID-19 until April 2022. These include Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg. 

Qantas expects to resume flights to Singapore, the US, Japan, the UK and Canada using Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s in December, as well as 737 and A320 services to Fiji.

It expects flights to and from New Zealand to have resumed by December also.

The airline is also looking into developing Darwin as a main transit point between Australia and London. Travellers from the east coast of Australia usually travel to the UK via places such as Singapore, but Qantas is looking at the possibility of moving its non-stop to London flights from Perth to Darwin.

The five returning Airbus A380s will fly between Sydney and Los Angeles from July 2022, and between Sydney and London (via Singapore) from November 2022. 

Qantas will extend the range of its A330-200 aircraft to operate some trans-Pacific routes such as Brisbane-Los Angeles and Brisbane-San Francisco. This involves some technical changes that are now being finalised with Airbus.

Flights to Hong Kong will restart in February and the rest of the Qantas and Jetstar international network is planned to open up from April 2022, with capacity increasing gradually.

Qantas recently launched a campaign which offered flight or status credits to travellers who were vaccinated as part of its strategy to get people back in the air.