QANTAS has stunned investors and staff alike by announcing a jaw-dropping $2.84 billion dollar loss for the last year.

CEO Alan Joyce is under intense pressure to turn the ailing passenger service around amid a highly competitive market and tough economic times. He believes the company has hit bottom. His immediate plans include axing 5000 jobs and splitting the Domestic and International arms into separate businesses.

Much has been said about what this means for the QANTAS, its staff and management, and investors. But what will this staggering loss entail for customers?

Tim Harcourt, an airline expert with the UNSW Business School believes the worst is not over for QANTAS. Rising fuel prices will only further erode profits and Asian low-cost carriers are becoming more attractive as Australian wages continue to lag behind soaring cost of living rises. “Domestically there will be pressure due to fuel costs,” said Mr Harcourt, “although a lot of that may not affect consumers so much – a lot of it will be FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) workers going into the Pilbara and the like.”

“With the Australian dollar now compared with that of 10 years ago, people will export to Asia, they’ll buy online from America and they’re going to take their holidays in Thailand, not Townsville. That means more competition from low-cost airlines in Asia, so there will be pressure to bring those fares down.” For customers it will come to a trade-off between cost and service.

Many regular passengers believe the introduction of self check-in had improved overall airline service quality as it allowed for the boarding process to be streamlined; personal attention being given to those who need it rather than to everyone, whether they wanted it or not.

Mr Harcourt believes the cutting-back of international routes flown by QANTAS to be inevitable. Some may be flown less often, others cut altogether.

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