More than 45,000 Australians stranded overseas registered for government helpThe tightening of arrival numbers and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan have seen the number balloon in recent monthsGet our free news app; get our morning email briefing Australian citizens and visa holders prepare to board an RAAF C-17 with the help of Australian soldiers, as they evacuate Kabul on 22 August 2021. Photograph: Australia’s Department of Defenc/Reuters
From wellness workshops to dinner with a celebrity chef and flights to nowhere, Asia's big international airlines are working hard to keep their most lucrative customers engaged as the pandemic-related travel halt stretches beyond 18 months. While flights are starting to rebound in the United States and Europe, international travel is still down 96% in Asia due to tough travel restrictions, making it harder to maintain a relationship with grounded premium clients. Elite frequent flyers, many of them business travellers, are coveted by full-service carriers like Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd, Singapore Airlines Ltd and Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, and the airlines want them back when travel resumes.
The airline forecast passenger capacity to reach 33% of pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter, and said it would serve at least 50% of locations it did before by the end of September. The airline, like Hong Kong rival Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, lacks a domestic market and is solely reliant on international travel at a time when most borders remain closed. SIA carried 132,600 passengers in the month of June, an improvement on its June 2020 figures but a 96% fall from the same month two years earlier, before the pandemic hit.