REUTERS NEXT-Australia's Qantas Airways lowers domestic capacity forecast for March quarter

SYDNEY, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways Ltd expects to run at 60% of pre-pandemic domestic capacity in the March quarter, below its previous forecast rate of nearly 80%, because of pandemic-related state border closings, its CEO said on Wednesday.

The airline on Dec. 3 forecast domestic capacity would reach 68% of pre-pandemic levels in December and nearly 80% in the March quarter before a pre-Christmas outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Sydney that spread to Melbourne prompted other states to shut their borders.

“Our forecast now is for the third quarter for the financial year ... will be at 60% of pre-COVID domestic capacity levels,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference.

For more coverage from the Reuters Next conference please click here or (Reporting by Byron Kaye and Jamie Freed; Editing by Himani Sarkar)