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Well, well fellow members of Australia’s amazing travel industry and those of us that used to be proud to see the flying kangaroo land or take off at airports around the world…to what lows has our former “national carrier” stooped?

As if parking getting rid of thousands of staff and being found guilty in court for not paying their staff the full JobKeeper amounts, QANTAS has been reduced to selling pyjamas, biscuits and tea bags and now as you will have heard, fully stocked in flight bar trolleys with reportedly 1,000 of its 747 galley carts sold to the public for under a $1,000.  As you will have also heard they sold out selling out in less than 24 hours netting QANTAS, which is clearly a seriously cash strapped airline around one million dollars.

Some pundits though have been wondering what QANTAS will do with the cash with some suggesting it would help to go towards QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce’s massive, OK albeit reduced but still massive salary!

Maybe QANTAS should be telling the ASX how bad things really are, that they are down to selling biscuits – it sounds rather like they are not just throwing the the baby out with the bathwater, but also selling both baby and bathwater and its biscuits and pyjamas!

Even over in the US they are chuckling at what QANTAS is doing with this kind of sale activity of selling off stock at bargain prices, an indicator of a business or airline in serious financial trouble, with Bloomberg even saying. “Times clearly are hard at QANTAS”.  “Now the airline is selling its in-flight biscuits and tea bags to people at home.” “With all overseas and most domestic flights halted during the pandemic, the Australian airline has thousands of premium-class pajamas, moisturizers and snacks sitting idle.”

“For A$25 ($18) apiece, frustrated travelers can buy as many as 10 packs of typical freebies that include 12 chocolate biscuits, a sleeper suit, and the kind of smoked almonds that only first-class passengers normally munch.”

“The packs, available for home delivery at Qantas’s online store, sold out within hours, a spokesman for the airline said.”

“Qantas said in June it planned to raise as much as A$1.9 billion from investors and cut at least 6,000 jobs to weather the industry’s worst-ever crisis.”  “Selling on-board amenities was more about recovering costs than making money, the spokesman said.”

A clear indicator of an airline that desperately needs some cash!

With now the 747 bar trolleys on sale sold out, another pundit said it was a great time to buy them and anything else form QANTAS as memorabile not just of the great 747’s from a time when QANTAS was actually great, but as memorabilia of a once great airline that it looks like, may not exist in the future or at least as the QANTAS Australians used to be proud of.

What is also interesting is that the bar trollies came fully stocked with 40 mini bottles of white wine, 40 mini bottles of red wine, one bottle of Champagne from the Business class cellar, two Qantas Business Class amenity kits featuring ASPAR Travel Essentials, one Sheridan throw made exclusively for Qantas First Class made of 100 per cent combed cotton and two Qantas Business Class sleeper suits M/L & L/XL…and even more interesting and actually staggering that they had 1,000 of them.

Hang on, they only had six 747-400’s flying, even at the beginning of the year, yet it appears they had 1,000 fully stocked bar trollies?

Sounds very strange and it sounds like massive overstocking, but there you go!

In the meantime, I asked an expert, www.SimpleFlying.com’s Andrew Curran, which airline was flying most in and out of Australia in these challenging times and as a result would appear to me to deserve the accolade of Australia’s National Carrier and this what he had to tell me!

“Out of North America, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are flying into Sydney.”

“Garuda Airlines is maintaining a minimal service into Sydney and Perth from Jakarta.”

“Cathay Pacific is flying into Sydney.”

“Singapore Airlines is flying into Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and has added Perth back to its schedules.”

“Qatar Airways is flying into Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth.”

“Emirates and Etihad have also resumed some services to Australia.”

“Air New Zealand, has currently suspended services into Melbourne but is flying to both Sydney and Brisbane out of Auckland.”

“China Southern, Malindo Air, China Eastern, Xiamen Airlines, and various carriers from the Pacific Islands region are flying into Sydney.”

“Air Niugini and AirPNG are maintaining flights into Cairns from Port Moresby.”

“Notably, neither of Australia’s two international airlines, Qantas and Virgin Australia, are operating international passenger flights.”

“Despite demand, current government regulations mean flight schedules are a far cry from 2019, with usually, the skies over Australia are filled with the contrails of international flights coming and going, but not so these days.”

“There were just seven international flights into Sydney on Sunday, September 27, which includes a United Airlines flight from San Francisco, a Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore, a Qatar Airways flight from Doha, an Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi, and Air New Zealand flight from Auckland, a Delta flight from LAX, and a China Southern flight from Guangzhou.

“The pickings were much slimmer at Australia’s other international entry points on Sunday, with at Melbourne, there was an empty China Southern flight coming in from Guangzhou, Perth handled no international flights on Sunday, Adelaide Airport is seeing a single Qatar Airways flight from Doha, Brisbane saw two international arrivals, a Qatar flight from Doha and a Singapore Airlines service from Sydney en route to Singapore.”

“That makes a grand total of 11 international arrivals scattered across Australia on Sunday, which proves it  is technically possible to fly into Australia during COVID-19, but significant hurdles remain before you are even allowed to board the plane.”

So as you will have noticed form Andrew’s research, no QANTAS or even Virgin Australia, which has effectively scrapped its international, flights, at all…as they say in Mexico NADA!

If we also look over the last few COVID-19 months at the frequency and numbers of flights and the airlines that have maintained services, even with very few passengers, so flying in the face of all this adversity and not just shutting down international operations, QANTAS style, the consensus of my industry expert colleagues and me, is that the award for being Australia’s new national carrier, proved by providing services in the face of adversity, goes to …[drum roll please]…..QATAR AIRWAYS.

Thank you Qatar Airways for providing the type of outstanding service to Australia, we should have expected from our national carrier, QANTAS, but of course we realise it is no longer our national carrier, with our former national carrier QANTAS international operation appearing to have having headed to the US deserts to hide!

A report by John Alwyn-Jones