Qantas to cut fares to win back passengers: report

Tue Nov 1, 2011 2:09am EDT
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SYDNEY/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Australia's Qantas Airways plans to cut fares and launch an advertising blitz to win back passengers, a newspaper said, after its showdown with unions caused international travel chaos and left almost 70,000 travelers stranded.

Qantas flights returned to normal on Tuesday for the first time since it grounded its global fleet last weekend, a deliberate tactic to gain the upper hand over trade unions in a long-running and costly labor dispute.

The tactic succeeded in spurring local authorities to order an end to all industrial action on Monday and should ensure a speedy resolution, but it also hurt the Qantas brand and left many passengers vowing to shun the airline in future.

Major rival Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA), which competes with Qantas on a key Asian route to the UK, said its bookings had been strong since the Qantas grounding, especially for flights from Britain to Australia.

"Demand has been particularly strong for flights out of the UK and into Australia in recent days," SIA spokesman Nicholas Ionides said, although he was not aware of any noticeable new trend for bookings out to the Christmas-New Year holidays.

Aviation and brand experts say Qantas has a huge job to restore confidence in its brand, which has traditionally stood for safety and reliability.

"Qantas will cut prices across its international and domestic network, offer grounded passengers special promotional deals, and take out one of the biggest national advertising campaigns in its 90-year history in a bid to win back disenchanted travelers in the lead-up to the peak Christmas period," the Australian Financial Review said.

Qantas also planned to temporarily double the rate of frequent flyer points earned, the newspaper said in its unsourced report.


<p>A worker drives past a Qantas Airbus 330-300 aircraft on the tarmac at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila October 31, 2011. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo</p>