Airline news

Qantas cuts international routes

Qantas has announced further cuts to its international flights, reducing capacity by almost a quarter for the next six months.

The latest cuts follow the spread of the Coronavirus into Europe and North America over the past fortnight, as well as its continued spread through Asia.

This has resulted in a significant drop in forward travel demand. These additional changes will bring the total international capacity reduction for Qantas and Jetstar from 5 per cent to 23 per cent versus the same time last year and extend these cuts until mid-September 2020.

The biggest reductions remain focused on Asia (now down 31 per cent compared with the same period last year). Capacity reductions to the United States (down 19 per cent), the UK (down 17 per cent) and Trans-Tasman (down 10 per cent) will also be made in line with forward booking trends.

Changes to services

Qantas will use smaller aircraft and reduce the frequency of flights to maintain overall connectivity.

This approach avoids cancelling routes entirely and results in eight of the airline’s largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, grounded until mid-September. A further two A380s are undergoing scheduled heavy maintenance and cabin upgrades, leaving two of its A380s flying.

In response to strong customer demand for the direct Perth-London service, the existing Sydney-Singapore-London return service (QF1 and QF2) will be temporarily re-routed to become a Sydney-Perth-London service from 20 April.

The start of Qantas’ new Brisbane-Chicago route will be delayed from 15 April to mid-September.

Jetstar will make significant cuts to its international network, including suspending flights to Bangkok and reducing flights from Australia to Vietnam and Japan by almost half. Jetstar’s daily Gold Coast to Seoul flight was suspended last week.

Domestically, Qantas and Jetstar capacity reductions will be increased from 3 per cent to 5 per cent through to mid-September 2020, in line with broader economic conditions.

In total, this is the equivalent of grounding 38 Qantas and Jetstar aircraft across the international and domestic network. The Group’s total capacity reduction changes from 4 per cent (announced on 20 February) to 17 per cent for the last quarter of FY20.

Given the reduced flying across the Qantas Group fleet, maintenance work will be brought forward where possible to make best use of this time.

Advice for travellers

Qantas and Jetstar will contact customers affected by these changes in the coming week. Customers who booked via Complete Business Travel will be contacted by your consultant.

Typically, customers flying internationally will be offered an alternative flight via another capital city or a partner airline, or an alternative day. Disruption to domestic passengers is expected to be minimal given the continued high frequency on most routes.

The latest information will be published on Qantas and Jetstar websites. Customers are encouraged to check this before calling the airline or contact CBT for assistance.

To provide customers with greater flexibility and confidence when you book, Qantas and Jetstar will waive change fees for new international bookings made from today until the end of March. This applies to travel commencing up to 30 June, 2020, and is limited to one free change per customer. Customers will need to make any changes more than three days before departure and pay any fare difference.

Summary of Qantas Group network changes

Route change and effective dates (until mid-Sept 2020 at this stage)


Sydney-Tokyo (Haneda) B747 replaced by smaller A330 from 30 March

– 7 return flights per week cancelled (QF 37/38) from 20 April
– B787 replaced by larger A330 on 7 return flights per week (QF 35/36) from 4 May

North America
Brisbane-Chicago Route launch postponed Was to start 15 April
Brisbane-San Francisco Route suspended (3 return flights per week) from 18 April
Sydney-San Francisco B787 replaced by larger B747 from 18 April
Melbourne-San Francisco Route suspended (4 return flights per week) from 18 April
Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth A380 replaced by smaller B787 from 20 April
Melbourne-Los Angeles A380 replaced by smaller B787 from 1 June
Sydney-Vancouver Seasonal service suspended (3 return flights per week) June and July only

United Kingdom
Following changes from 20 April, 2020:

Sydney-London (Heathrow) – Flights to operate via Perth (instead of Singapore) then non-stop to London.

– Perth-London to become double daily as a result.
– A380 replaced by smaller B787, with approx. 250 less seats

Note: The suspension of the A380 and First Class from Singapore routes will see the Qantas First Lounge in Singapore close temporarily, with customers instead invited to use the adjacent Qantas Business Lounge.

South America
Sydney-Santiago – Delaying planned B787 introduction and continuing with B747 from 1 August

Extension of previously announced Qantas cancellations

These changes will be in effect until mid-Sept 2020, unless stated differently.

Sydney-Shanghai Route continues to be suspended until at least mid-July (7 flights per week) (sole route to mainland China)

Sydney-Hong Kong Reduced from 14 to 7 return flights per week

Melbourne-Hong Kong Reduced from 7 to 4 return flights per week (1 additional cancellation per week from previously announced cuts)

Brisbane-Hong Kong Reduced from 7 to 3 return flights per week (1 additional cancellation per week from previously announced cuts)

Note: Further capacity reductions will also be made on flights to Japan and New Zealand, with other Asian routes under evaluation.

Jetstar Airways – Summary of new changes

Routes changes are expected to be in effect until end June, but may be extended.

Melbourne-Bangkok Route suspended from 1 May
Sydney/Melbourne-Ho Chi Minh Flights reduced by over 50 per cent from 1 May
Japan routes Flights reduced by almost 40 per cent from 20 May
Brisbane-Bali Minor flight reductions from 1 May

Note: Further capacity reductions will also be made on flights to New Zealand, with other Asian routes are under evaluation.

Jetstar Asia (based in Singapore) will cut capacity by almost 40 per cent with reductions in frequencies across the network. Singapore to Taipei and Osaka routes will be suspended.

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. Further reductions will be made to its Japanese domestic network.

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. Further reductions are being made to its Vietnamese domestic network.

Comments from Qantas Group CEO

Announcing the changes, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, said: “In the past fortnight we’ve seen a sharp drop in bookings on our international network 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.

“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.

“It’s hard to predict how long this situation will last, which is why we’re moving now to make sure we remain well positioned. But we know it will pass, and we’ll be well positioned to take advantage of opportunities when it does.”

If you have any queries regarding your upcoming flights, please don’t hesitate to contact your CBT team for assistance.

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