With Qantas now back in the air, the industry is reviewing the fallout of Allan Joyce’s, Qantas Chief Executive Officer, unprecedented decision to ground the entire fleet. With so many flights grounded, rival airlines were able to sweep in on opportunities created by stranded passengers in need of seats.
Virgin Atlantic added 7,000 seats to its schedule this week with up to 20 additional flights today, and another 40,000 over the October – January period. Over the weekend the airline’s call centres were inundated with calls requiring volunteers to be brought in and mop up the windfall demand.
Jetstar and Strategic Airlines have also upped frequencies on domestic routes, but Virgin Australia has been the clear benefactor amidst the chaos. Tiger Airways Australia was, however, unable to respond due to restrictions associated with its air operator’s certificate, which was reissued in August.
This will be highly expensive for Qantas in the long-run as it will lose the loyalty of Australian and international air passengers. The forced change will expose many travellers to the Virgin Australia experience and could see a long-term shift in travellers’ choice of carrier. This could ultimately result in a shift in market share, thus increasing Virgin’s 30% share in the Australian market, Airline pundit Geoffrey Thomas told ABC.