Now that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting every continent with the exception of Antarctica, Qantas Airways has stated that it will stop all international flights by the end of March until June 1. The airline said that it has begun reducing international flights already but has left some open to help bring people who are currently abroad back to Australia.
The airline has stated that it is grounding over 150 planes at this time, including the widebody jets that its subsidiary Jetstar uses, as well as its own fleet of A380, 747 and 787-9 aircraft. The airline also stated that it is cutting domestic flights by at least 60 percent during this period as well, when it made the announcement earlier this week. However, the actual cut to Qantas and Jetstar's domestic flights could be higher as COVID-19 continues its ravaging impact on Australia and around the world.
A rep for Qantas has stated that the airline is working closely with the Australian government to help curb the spread of COVID-19. If the government feels that the airline can start operating overseas flights sooner, or if the ban on international flights needs to last longer, the airline will adjust its flight schedule accordingly.
The reduction of flights comes at a time when most major airlines around the world have stopped or nearly stopped all international flights. Some airlines in Europe have suspended all flights, domestic and international, until such a time that the virus is under control.
Qantas further stated that it is taking every precaution on its remaining operating flights to protect the safety of its passengers and crews alike. Extensive cleaning is being performed on each plane between uses, and precautions are being taken to reduce interactions between passengers and flight crews.
Additionally, passengers scheduled on any future flights that have now been canceled should contact the airline immediately.
For those who are wondering, Qantas will still be operating its freighters along with essential domestic and regional connections. The carrier will also utilise some of its domestic passenger planes for freight-only flights in this challenging environment.
Jetstar Asia (Singapore) has already suspended all flights while Jetstar Japan and Jetstar Pacific (Vietnam) have both suspended all international flights and cut domestic flights.