Qantas and Jetstar Are Drastically Cutting International and Domestic Flights Until the End of May
International flights will be cut by around 90 percent, while domestic flights will fall by approximately 60 percent.
As COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, travel is in no one's immediate plans — and the airline industry is responding accordingly. In Australia, that means a huge drop in the number of available flights, both overseas and within Australia, with Qantas announcing that it's grounding aircraft and slashing services for the foreseeable future.
In a statement, the 100-year-old Aussie airline revealed that it will cut flights from the end of March until the end of May, at least. International flights will be cut by around 90 percent, while domestic flights will fall by approximately 60 percent. Both moves come in response to Australia's current containment and quarantine measures, including the requirement that all international arrivals into the country must self-isolate for 14 days — and, unsurprisingly, the steeply dropping demand for air travel both internationally and domestically.
In total, around 150 aircraft will be taken out of service across both the Qantas and Jetstar brands. At present, the company will also stick to its previously announced reductions from late May to mid-September — with capacity cut by 25 percent by using smaller aircraft and reducing the frequency of flights — although that could obviously drop further depending on how the coronavirus situation develops in the next two months.
While Qantas hasn't revealed exactly which routes will be affected by the huge 90-percent cut, it's sensible to assume that all of them will. Big changes already announced and operational include postponing the launch of the new Brisbane–Chicago route, sending all Sydney flights to London via Perth rather than Singapore (which, yes, means experiencing that whopping 17-hour non-stop trip from Perth–London), and completely suspending all flights from Sydney–Shanghai and Melbourne–Bangkok.
Given the extent of COVID-19's impact, all other airlines are obviously in a comparable situation. While Virgin Australia hasn't updated its plans since March 13, it too has begun reducing services — by six percent overall, including by eight percent internationally.
Worldwide, the scenario is the same. Air New Zealand is reducing its capacity by 85 percent overall, and its trips across the Tasman to Australia by 80 percent. Airlines in America, Britain, Europe, Asia and, well, basically everywhere are taking similar measures — as is to be expected as countries everywhere begin to close their borders.
To find out more about the status of COVID-19 in Australia and how to protect yourself, head to the Australian Government Department of Health's website.
Published on March 17, 2020 by Sarah Ward