TravelNewsAsia.com
Thu, 19 March 2020

Qantas to Suspend ALL Scheduled International Flights Until at Least June 2020

Earlier this week, Qantas and Jetstar confirmed plans to cut 90 per cent of international flights and about 60 per cent of domestic flights.

Now, with the Australian Federal Government recommending against all overseas travel from Australia, the Qantas Group has announced that 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.

As the national carrier, Qantas is in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government about continuation of some strategic links, but nothing has yet been confirmed.

More than 150 aircraft will be temporarily grounded, including all of Qantas’ A380s, 747s and B787-9s and Jetstar’s B787-8s.

Qantas Airbus A330 at Changi Airport in Singapore. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

Qantas has said that essential domestic, regional and freight connections will be maintained "as much as possible".

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 Qantas Group is making the following changes to its international network:

• ALL regularly scheduled Qantas and Jetstar international flights from Australia will be suspended from end March until at least the end of May 2020. Some flights may continue in order to maintain key links, based on ongoing discussions with the Federal Government.

• Jetstar Asia (Singapore) will suspend ALL flights from 23 March until at least 15 April 2020.

• Jetstar Japan has suspended international flights and cut domestic flying.

• Jetstar Pacific (Vietnam) has suspended international flights and will significantly cut domestic flying.

In order to preserve as many jobs as possible longer term, Qantas and Jetstar will stand down the majority of their 30,000 employees until at least the end of May 2020.

During the stand down, employees will be able to draw down on annual and long service leave and additional support mechanisms will be introduced, including leave at half pay and early access to long service leave. Employees with low leave balances at the start of the stand down will be able to access up to four weeks’ leave in advance of earning it. Periods of leave without pay for some employees are inevitable, Qantas has said.

Senior Group Management Executives and the Board have increased their salary reductions from 30 per cent to 100 per cent until at least the end of this financial year, joining the Chairman and Group CEO in taking no pay. Annual management bonuses have also been cancelled.

Given the current extraordinary circumstances, a decision has been made to defer payment of the shareholder dividend announced on 20 February from 9 April until 1 September 2020. This is in addition to the cancellation of the off-market buy back, previously announced.

Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, “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. 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 $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.”

“Most of our people will be using various types of paid leave during this time, and we’ll have a number of support options in place. We’re also talking to our partners like Woolworths about temporary job opportunities for our people. This is a very hard set of circumstances for our people, as it is for lots of parts of the community right now. 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,” added Mr. Joyce.

Customer contact centres are currently experiencing long wait times. To help manage the demand, Qantas asks that customers only call if they have travel within the next 48 hours.

To avoid further inconvenience, Qantas is converting all bookings on cancelled flights to a travel credit, which can be used anywhere on our network. Affected customers will be contacted directly from next Monday (23 March 2020). Any customers travelling before the end of May who wish to change their booking are also eligible to receive a travel credit instead.

If flights were booked through a travel agency or third-party website (e.g. Webjet, Booking.com), customers will need to contact them directly to make changes to their booking.

See latest Travel News, Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: Qantas, COVID19.

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