The COVID-19 virus is far from slowing down it seems as more and more airlines, cruise companies and other major travel vendor are heavily reducing their offerings and in some cases completely cancelling. While there’s a lot of people who are on the fence about it’s severity, one thing that we can all agree on is the fact of how powerful this actually is and how it’s affecting all travel around the world.
I’ve mainly focused on the virus and it’s impacts on Australia and our airlines. As for Australia, we don’t have nearly as many confirmed cases however, our airlines are heavily feeling the bite. Qantas has today announced quite a few major changes which will heavily affect a lot of travellers.
Qantas will be gutting many international routes
While these types of events are occurring, the demand for air travel is highly monitored as airlines don’t wish to continue serving routes that won’t make profit more so than usual. You know it’s a pretty serious situation when a carrier is even announcing some changes for their flagship routes which generally gold mines and are ones that usually have stellar passenger loads.
Not only are service numbers being cut back, the airline is also going to be switching around aircraft to better assist with the smaller number of passengers. Below are the routes that have previously been announced and following that are the new changes.
- Sydney – Shanghai
This route is the only direct service to China the airline operates and it’s seven flights have been postponed.
- Sydney – Hong Kong
The Sydney – Hong Kong route has been slashed from half going from 14 to 7 weekly services.
- Melbourne – Hong Kong
This service has been bought down from 7 to 4 with instead of 5 which was previously announced.
- Brisbane Hong Kong
This service has also been brought down from 7 services down to 3 instead of the previous 4 that was announced.
Which routes are going to be cancelled or changed?
All of the routes below have had changes announced today and they’re expected to stay in place until September.
- Sydney to Tokyo
Sydney to Tokyo is operated by Qantas 747’s but from the 30th of March, the route will instead be operated by an A330 aircraft. See my review of the Qantas A330 business class from Tokyo – Brisbane here.
- Melbourne to Singapore
The Melbourne to Singapore service will see a massive cancellation with the removal of 7 return services starting on the 20th of April. From the 4th of May until September, the route will be operated by an A330 instead of a 787 Dreamliner. See my review of Qantas’ 787 business class from Hong Kong to Brisbane here.
- Brisbane to Chicago
This new route will be a game changer for Brisbane but for those wanting to hop on board, you’re going to wait until further notice. The route was set to take off on April 15th but the demand must not be enough to grant a new launch.
- Brisbane – San Francisco
This the first of the newer US routes from Brisbane and it too will see a reduction. From the 18th of April, the whole route will be suspended.
- Sydney – San Francisco
For fans of the 747, you’ll like this. Not long ago the 787 took over the 747 on the SFO route as retirement in quickly approaching for the Queens but, it’ll see on be making a return. From the 18th of April, the 747 will return to San Francisco.
- Melbourne – San Francisco
The Melbourne – San Francisco service will be suspending from 18th of April. This service operates four times weekly.
- Sydney – Dallas
One route I didn’t expect to see have this change is the Dallas service but it too is loosing their A380 for a 787 come April 20th.
- Melbourne – Los Angeles
Another A380 route will also downgrade to a 787 and that’s the Melbourne – Los Angeles service. From the 1st of June, the Dreamliner will operate the service.
- Sydney – London (via Singapore)
This is Qantas’ flagship route and is extremely profitable but it too is not immune to changes. From the 20th of April, the airline will pull the A380 off the route, no longer operate via Singapore and will make the Perth – London service twice daily to cater for the passengers.
- Sydney – Santiago
The Santiago route will continue to utilise the 747 with the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner to come at a later date.
- Sydney – Vancouver
The seasonal Sydney – Vancouver route will also be suspended during the June/July travel period.
“When revenue falls you need to cut costs, and reducing the amount of flying we do is the best way for us to do that.
“Less flying means less work for our people, but we know coronavirus will pass and we want to avoid job losses wherever possible. We’re asking our people to use their paid leave and, if they can, consider taking some unpaid leave given we’re flying a lot less.
“Annual management bonuses have been set to zero and the Group Executive team will take a significant pay cut for the rest of this financial year.
As you could imagine, this would be a heavily stressful and challenging time for all airline and executives and I want to applaud what Mr Joyce has announced.
Mr Joyce has stated that he won’t accept any pay until the virus is over and finished, the Qantas Chairman Richard Goyder has announced no fee’s will be awarded to him, the board will take a 30% reduction in fee’s and the group board will also take a 30% cut.
The carriers CEO has also asked that all non-essential recruitment be halted for the time being and that group staff take their paid holiday leave while the demand for travel is lowered.
Qantas will be closing their first class lounge in Singapore
As I listed all of the route changes above, you would have noticed that Singapore’s A380 service is also getting cut. Singapore is home to the recently opened Qantas first lounge which I’ve yet to try. As there will be no first operating there, the airline has decided it’s worthwhile to shut the facility.
The lounge should re-open in September if all goes to plan and no more reductions are announced. This is a fast moving event so I honestly wouldn’t be too surprised if this get’s extended.
This is a major situation around the world and it’s clear to see it’s definitely making an impact on all parts of travel and tourism. Qantas will be reducing their international network by almost a quarter which is a crazy amount of comprehend. Not only is this such a massive amount of overall traffic, the speed of which this is occurring is pretty alarming.
Say what you will about the virus, the affects are definitely hurting a lot of people, business’ and the GFC. I personally think this is going to continue for quite a matter of time and airline will be doing a lot more of this.
What do you think about the Coronavirus and the impacts it’s had on Qantas?