Qantas and Jetstar are suspending all scheduled international flights from late March on the back of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, with freighters continuing.
Essential domestic, regional and freight connections will be maintained as much as possible, it says.
“Qantas’ fleet of freighters will continue to be fully utilised. Some domestic passenger aircraft will also be used for freight-only flights to replace lost capacity from regular scheduled services,” the carrier notes.
The carrier says some ongoing ad hoc services will still be possible and it will also be slashing domestic flights by 60 per cent, focusing mainly on cutting frequency.
The Qantas Group has outlined the customer and employee impact of the massive drop in travel demand triggered by the public health response to the Coronavirus crisis.
Two-thirds of employees will be temporarily stood down to preserve as many jobs as possible longer term, the carrier says. Payment of an AUD 201 million shareholder dividend will also be deferred until September 2020.
Earlier this week, cuts to 90 per cent of international flying and about 60 per cent of domestic flying were announced by Qantas and Jetstar. With the Australian Federal Government now recommending against all overseas travel from Australia, regularly scheduled international flights will continue until late March to assist with repatriation and will then be suspended until at least the end of May 2020.
More than 150 aircraft will be temporarily grounded, including all of Qantas’ A380s, B747s and B787-9s and Jetstar’s B787-8s. Discussions are progressing with airports and government about parking for these aircraft, the carrier group says.
“The efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus have led to a huge drop in travel demand, the likes of which we have never seen before,” says Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. “This is having a devastating impact on all airlines.
“We’re in a strong financial position right now, but our wages bill is more than AUD 4 billion a year. With the huge drop in revenue we’re facing, we have to make difficult decisions to guarantee the future of the national carrier.
“The reality is we’ll have 150 aircraft on the ground and sadly there’s no work for most of our people. Rather than lose these highly skilled employees who we’ll need when this crisis passes, we are instead standing down two-thirds of our 30,000 employees until at least the end of May.
“No airline in the world is immune to this, with the world’s leading carriers making deep cuts to flying schedules and jobs. Our strong balance sheet means we’ve entered this crisis in better shape than most and we’re taking action to make sure we can ride this out.
“Since this crisis started, there has been overwhelming support from our customers. That gives me even more confidence that we’ll get through this,” adds Joyce.