Qantas and Jetstar to suspend all international flights

Author
Newstalk ZB / Grant Bradley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Mar 2020, 11:23AM
A Qantas Dreamliner lands at Sydney. Photo / James D Morgan

Qantas and Jetstar to suspend all international flights

Author
Newstalk ZB / Grant Bradley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Mar 2020, 11:23AM

Qantas and Jetstar are suspending international flights from the end of the month.

The move has been triggered by the public health response to the coronavirus crisis although there would be some ''ad hoc'' services possible.

The Qantas group is also standing down two-thirds of its 30,000 strong workforce.

The will be a 60 per cent reduction to domestic flights in Australia and Jetstar will cut services in New Zealand to a third of what they are now.

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 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.

Qantas is in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government about continuation of some strategic links.

More than 150 aircraft will be temporarily grounded, including all of Qantas' A380s, 747s and B787-9s and Jetstar's B787-8s. Discussions are progressing with airports and government about parking for these aircraft.

Essential domestic, regional and freight connections will be maintained as much as possible.

Jetstar Auckland-Christchurch flights will fall to 14 return services per week, down from 42 and Wellington-Christchurch to 14 return services per week, down from 42.

Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said the efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus have led to a huge drop in travel demand.

''This is having a devastating impact on all airlines,'' he said.

"We're in a strong financial position right now, but our wages bill is more than $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.

With 150 aircraft on the ground there was no work for most of the staff.

''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."

Most staff would be using various types of paid leave during this time.

"This is a very hard set of circumstances for our people, as it is for lots of parts of the community right now.''