Qantas’s relaunch of ‘mystery flights’ has been a big hit with the three services to surprise destinations selling out in a flash.
Qantas’s relaunch of ‘mystery flights’ has been a big hit with the three services to surprise destinations selling out in a flash.

Qantas mystery flights sell out in 15 minutes

In an encouraging sign for domestic tourism, Qantas's relaunch of "mystery flights" has been a roaring success with all three selling out within 15 minutes of going on sale.

The flights out of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to a surprise regional destination differ somewhat to the "mystery flights" the airline staged in the 1990s, with a day of activities included in the airfare.

All 130 seats on each flight, costing $737 in economy and $1579 in business class, were snapped, with the Sydney service selling out in just 11 minutes.

A Qantas spokeswoman said there was a near 50 per cent spike in traffic to the Qantas website as a result of the flights going on sale.

Given the demand, the airline is expected to consider offering more mystery flights, potentially from other Australian cities.

As well as generating revenue and supporting domestic tourism, the flights would mean more work for Qantas employees, with 11,000 workers still stood down.

A Senate Committee hearing on the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry was told that across the sector some 31,000 workers were receiving JobKeeper late last year.

Treasury first assistant secretary Matthew Brine said employment in the aviation sector remained 19 per cent below pre-COVID levels, compared to 3 per cent below for the rest of the workforce.

"Payroll jobs in the air and space sector have declined 10.1 per cent," said Mr Brine.

"One bit of good news for the sector was a reduction in jet fuel prices but that's now largely unwound, with fuel at a 13-month high putting further pressure on the aviation sector."

Labor Senator Tony Sheldon questioned whether it was appropriate that Qantas had received $726m in JobKeeper allowance to date, yet 8500 jobs had been lost.

Mr Brine responded that the intent of JobKeeper was not to ensure that every employee who was employed at the start of the COVID crisis would remain employed.

"We were trying to build a bridge through the COVID crisis so companies were able to get to the other side of the crisis and recommence their operations," said Mr Brine.

"Some companies have made the decision in line with economic opportunities they see arising in coming years, they've had to reduce their workforce and it's tragic for the individuals affected but you wouldn't want to have policies in place that prevent that happening."

On Wednesday, Qantas domestic and international chief executive Andrew David suggested the airline could not rule out more redundancies, given the prolonged nature of the COVID crisis.

He said Qantas had asked the federal government for further aid once JobKeeper ended in the form of financial assistance for training of pilots and crew to keep them current.


Originally published as Qantas mystery flights sell out in 15 minutes