As coronavirus hits industries all over the world, there's been a global downturn in people flying. And that's forced Qantas to cut costs in several ways. The most noticeable change for travellers will be a 25% cutback in the number of flights over the next six months. Flights into the United States, United Kingdom, Asia and New Zealand will all see reductions in the number of flights and the use of smaller aircraft. Here's what we can expect.
What changes is Qantas making to its flights?
If you're a regular flyer and like sitting in an Airbus A380 your chances of flying on one of those is drastically reduced. With two of its A380 fleet already offline for maintenance, another eight are now grounded until September, which leaves just two of the massive planes flying for the next few months. Most of the routes flown with the A380 are now covered with smaller, but still comfortable, Boeing 787s.
Some routes, such as the Sydney-Tokyo route will have smaller planes while other flights, such as Melbourne-Singapore, will get larger planes but fewer flights with 7 flights a week cancelled. From 30 March 2020, this route will be run by smaller A330 planes, rather than the the Boeing 747.
The Melbourne and Brisbane flights to San Francisco will be suspended from 18 April 2020, while the Sydney-San Francisco route will get a larger plane with the Brisbane and Melbourne travellers to San Francisco needing to decide between a layover at LAX or one in Sydney.
The existing Sydney-Singapore-London service is being rerouted with the Singapore stopover shifting to Perth. And the launch of the recently announced Brisbane-Chicago route is being delayed for another six months as well.
The capacity changes are:
- Asia: 31%
- United States: 19%
- UK: 17%
- Trans-Tasman: 10%
These are reductions based on 2019 capacities.
It's also worth noting there will be some less drastic reductions on domestic routes as well. The company says reductions on domestic routes will be in the order of 3% to 5% "in line with broader economic conditions".
Jetstar flights to Bangkok and Seoul are also suspended and there's 50% flight reduction to Vietnam and Japan.
With Jetstar, the big changes to its network are:
- Flights between Melbourne and Bangkok will be suspended from May 1 2020
- Flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam will be reduced by over 50 per cent from 1 May 2020
- Flights between Australia and Japan will be reduced by almost 40 per cent from 20 May 2020
- Flights between Brisbane and Bali will experience minor reductions from 1 May
Jetstar's affiliates are also affected:
- Jetstar Asia is cutting back capacity by 40%, suspending routes from Singapore to Taipei and Osaka.
- 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.
- Jetstar Pacific 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 the Vietnamese domestic network.
How can I find out if my Qantas flight is cancelled?
If you need to find out if your flight has been cancelled, there's a full list of all the cancellations and changes at the bottom of Qantas's statement ">here.
The changes apply until mid September 2020.
What do I do if my Qantas flight is cancelled? Can I get a refund?
If your flight is cancelled or delayed, Qantas says it will offer fee waivers for changes to bookings made for the rest of this month for flights operating before 30 June 2020. If you've booked a flight directly with Qantas and are no longer able to travel based on new immigration restrictions for the countries in your itinerary, you may be eligible for fare waivers.
There are also waivers in place if a destination you've booked for is now on the banned or restricted list published by SmartTraveller.
For example, if you've got a flight booking to mainland China between now and 24 May 2020, you can apply to either:
- Rebook your flight
- Cancel your ticket and retain its value in credit
- Cancel your flights for a full refund. Change and cancellation fees will not be charged.
For Jetstar customers booked on an affected route, you can choose to defer your travel dates until March 2021 or ask for a refund if they no longer wish to travel. However, the airline <a href="https://www.jetstar.com/au/en/travel-alerts#Network%20adjustments%20in%20response%20to%20COVID-19"says that it has already or will contact all passengers affected by the flight cancellations.
What is Qantas doing internally to fight the coronavirus impact?
The announcement by Qantas also notes that the chairman and CEO of the company are taking no salary, management will not get receive bonuses and that the group executive management is taking a 30% pay cut for this financial year.
All non-essential recruitment and consultancy work is also suspended with staff asked to take leave in light of the reduced capacity. That can be either paid or unpaid leave.
In response, the Transport Workers Union National Secretary, Michael Kaine said in a statement that "The TWU acknowledges Qantas executives will not receive their full multi-million dollar salaries this year. We sincerely hope this is more than window dressing. We want a commitment that Qantas will reimburse its workforce with extra leave when the business returns to full health. It is not reasonable to ask Qantas ground staff, baggage handlers and flight attendants to take a hit without also asking shareholders to sacrifice dividends".