Qantas and Jetstar have announced it is to suspend scheduled international flights from late March following the latest government travel advice.
Two-thirds of employees will be temporarily stood down in a move to preserve as many jobs as possible in the long term.
Flights will continue until late March before being suspended until at least the end of May.
The Qantas Group has outlined the customer and employee impact of a huge drop in travel demand triggered by the public health response to the Coronavirus crisis.
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.
The Group will maintain connectivity to almost all Australian domestic and regional destinations that Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar currently operate to. The 60 per cent reduction in capacity will come mostly from a significant reduction in flight frequency, but also route suspensions and postponing a number of new route launches.
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.
“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,” commented Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. “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.”