Domestic travel may resume by June in US Australia SEA

An Airbus A320-212 operated by Delta Airlines takes off from JFK Airport on August 24, 2019 in New York City.

Bruce Bennett | Getty Images

Domestic travel within North America, Australia and Southeast Asia could be on course to return to normal by June if current efforts aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak are successful, according to the CEO of Australia’s largest travel agency.

International travel, meanwhile, could be on hold for another six months, Flight Centre’s Graham Turner told CNBC’s “Street Signs.”

“My feeling is, and this is in places like Southeast Asia, Australia, North America, the domestic side of things will start picking up, start returning to normal, mainly on government dictates, in June,” he said Tuesday.

Graham said he was unsure whether that would be “early, mid or late June.”

“But the more international side of it we think it’s probably going to be more September, October, which is, you know, six months away,” he added.

The travel CEO noted, however, that any rollback of travel restrictions — which have halted the majority of international travel for the best part of a month — would depend on governments’ ongoing response to the pandemic.

Graham said he expects to see “a lot of change in the way governments work in the next few weeks.”

Flight Centre is among the countless international travel companies to have been hit hard by the virus.

The Brisbane-headquartered company announced this week it would be closing 800 stores on top of the 6,000 jobs culled in March as part of a 1.9 billion Australian dollar ($1.16 billion) cost-cutting strategy. The business is also hoping to raise 700 million Australian dollars to help it ride out the downturn. 

Graham said he hopes, where possible, to take advantage of government subsidies to retain the remainder of its some 20,000 staff until the travel industry gets back on its feet. 

“There will certainly be lots of opportunities when things return to relative normal,” said Graham, citing offline, online and corporate business lines.

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