The Qantas Group, including its subsidiary Jetstar, will temporarily reduce flights across Asia in response to a drop in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Qantas will reduce its group capacity to Asia by 15 per cent until “at least the end of May”. Qantas International’s capacity will be cut by 16 per cent, and Jetstar’s capacity will be lowered by 14 per cent.
“Coronavirus resulted in the suspension of our flights to mainland China and we’re now seeing some secondary impacts with weaker demand on Hong Kong, Singapore and to a lesser extent Japan. Other key routes, like the US and UK, haven’t been impacted,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.
“We know demand into Asia will rebound. And we’ll be ready to ramp back up when it does”, he added.
Qantas International's affected routes
Sydney-Shanghai, the airline’s only route to mainland China, will remain suspended until at least the end of May, the airline said. Qantas previously said this route would remain suspended until March 29.
The carrier’s Sydney-Hong Kong route will reduce from 14 return flights per week to seven return flights. Its Brisbane-Hong Kong service will be cut from seven to four return flights per week, while its Melbourne-Hong Kong flights will fly five times a week instead of seven round trips per week.
Its Melbourne-Singapore flights will be operated by Boeing 787s instead of the larger Airbus 380s. This means approximately 250 fewer seats per flight will be offered. The airline flies 12 return flights per week on this route.
Qantas said it will also reduce flights across the Tasman to New Zealand by 6 per cent with cancellations on its Sydney-Auckland, Melbourne-Auckland and Brisbane-Christchurch routes.
Jetstar's affected routes
Jetstar’s Cairns-Tokyo (Narita), Cairns-Osaka, Gold Coast-Tokyo (Narita) and Melbourne and Sydney to Phuket routes will each be reduced by up to two return flights per week.
Qantas said all of the Jetstar airlines in Asia – Jetstar Asia (Singapore), Jetstar Japan and Jetstar Pacific (Vietnam) – have suspended flights to mainland China and are reducing flights across the region. It added that Jetstar Asia, in particular, has reduced total seats by 15 per cent.
Qantas added that it’s looking at transferring an A320 aircraft from Jetstar to its Sydney-based regional brand Qantaslink “to meet increased demand from the resources sector in Western Australia”.
Jetstar will also reduce its Tasman flying by 5 per cent.
Flight refunds, changes, and cancellations
The airline said in a press release that customers with existing bookings who are impacted by the reductions will be contacted directly and offered alternatives.
“For international bookings, customers can move flights to another date or connect through another Australian city,” it added.
Business Traveller Asia-Pacific has reached out to the airline to ask whether customers flying on the adjusted routes can opt for a refund.
Qantas said it will launch a “double status credits offer” for all fares booked between February 20 and 25 on all Qantas operated flights for travel between February 28 this year and February 14, 2021.
Meanwhile, Jetstar has a number of sales planned “with every domestic and international destination to be on sale over the next month”.
Qantas joins a growing list of airlines around the world that have temporarily cut their flights to Hong Kong and several other destinations in Asia in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.