Qantas slashes capacity by a quarter due to virus
Following flight cuts to Japan, Hong Kong and even New Zealand on Friday, Australian airline Qantas has been forced to take even more action amid the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.
On Tuesday, the airline announced it was altering routes to London and parking eight of their 12 A380 aircraft because of weak demand - saying it will reduce capacity overall by almost a quarter for the next six months.
Qantas Group said rather than exit routes altogether, the airline would use smaller aircraft and reduce the frequency of flights to maintain overall connectivity.
The biggest change will be for Sydneysiders heading to London. From April 20, instead of flying through Singapore and on to London, flights will be temporarily re-routed to become a Sydney-Perth-London service.
The much-anticipated Brisbane to Chicago route will now be delayed from mid-April to mid-September. The airline's route from Brisbane and Melbourne to San Francisco has also been suspended.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the industry had been hit with a "sharp drop in bookings" as the global coronavirus spread continues.
"We expect lower demand to continue for the next several months, so rather than taking a piecemeal approach we're cutting capacity out to mid-September. This improves our ability to reduce costs as well as giving more certainty to the market, customers and our people," Mr Joyce said.
"We retain the flexibility to cut further or to put capacity back in as this situation develops.
"The Qantas Group is a strong business in a challenging environment. We have a robust balance sheet, low debt levels and most of our profit comes from the domestic market. We're in a good position to ride this out, but we need to take steps to maintain this strength."
Budget airline Jetstar, which suspended its route from the Gold Coast to Seoul in South Korea amid weakening demand last week, will also make further cuts to the airline's network.
The airline will cut capacity by almost 40 per cent with reductions in frequencies across the network. Singapore to Taipei and Osaka routes will be suspended entirely.
Jetstar Japan has suspended its international services to Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai until at least the end of May and will reduce flights to Manila.
Jetstar Pacific (based in Vietnam) has also suspended all international routes to the end of April with the exception of Ho Chi Minh-Bangkok where flights have been halved.