Qantas Airways will offer top-tier members of rival frequent flyer programmes a fast-track to higher status as its main domestic rival, Virgin Australia, pursues a less premium strategy under its new owner.
The move could help boost Qantas’ market share in lucrative corporate and high-end leisure travel as domestic flights ramp up in Australia due to the reopening of state borders.
“With so much uncertainty in the market, we’ve seen a spike in requests from people wanting us to match their status with other airlines,” Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth said. “If they are willing to bring their travel across to Qantas, we will fast track them to Gold status.”
Qantas Gold status includes access to its large network of airport lounges, priority check-in and boarding and preferential seating.
By early December, the airline expects 30 of its 35 domestic airport lounges will be open, whereas Virgin last week said it would maintain only six domestic lounges as part of its shift to becoming a more value-focused mid-market airline. The carrier also includes free Wi-Fi on its domestic flights, while Virgin is reviewing the future of its Wi-Fi offering, which had previously been complimentary.
It is flying just under 40% of its pre-pandemic domestic capacity now that state border openings have allowed it to ramp up Sydney-Melbourne flights. It expects that to rise to around 60% of pre-pandemic levels by Christmas as Queensland opens its borders further, which could allow the airline to report positive net cash flow in the second half of its financial year ending 30 June 2021.