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Qantas says vaccine to be mandatory for international flyers

Australian carrier warns of 60% revenue drop as travel restrictions continue

Qantas has announced job cuts totaling 8,500 since June to deal with the financial fallout from the pandemic.   © Reuters

SYDNEY -- Australia's Qantas Airways warned Thursday that revenue for the current fiscal year will plunge by roughly 60% owing to the coronavirus pandemic and said travel restrictions will persist for months.

The top line figure for the year through June 2021 is expected to drop by 11 billion Australian dollars ($8.12 billion). Australia's top airline forecasts another annual net loss after losing AU$1.96 billion a year earlier.

Qantas has grounded nearly all international flights due to Australia's coronavirus-related restrictions on inbound and outbound travel, in place since March.

"International travel is likely to be at a virtual standstill until at least July next year," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in Thursday's teleconference.

Qantas will require that international travelers receive a COVID-19 vaccine before they board flights, apart from those granted medical exemptions, Joyce said during the teleconference.

"We have a duty of care to our people and to our passengers, and once a safe and effective vaccine becomes readily available, it will be a requirement," the CEO said.

International routes produced roughly 40% of the carrier's sales prior to the pandemic.

Domestic travel restrictions across Australian state lines have been relaxed. Qantas expects domestic carrying capacity to recover to 68% of pre-coronavirus levels this month. The capacity is projected to approach 80% in the January-March quarter of 2021.

Qantas expects its current market share in domestic flights to stay above 70%.

In June, the airline said it would cut 6,000 jobs to cope with the pandemic impact. Last month, Qantas decided to outsource some ground staff jobs, such as cabin cleaning and baggage handling, bringing the total job losses to 8,500.

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