After announcing a 90 per cent international flight reduction earlier this week due to coronavirus, Qantas has now decided to cancel all flights leaving the country from the end of March. This will also include Jetstar flights.
While a few ad hoc may continue during this time, all scheduled international Qantas and Jetstar flights will be cancelled from the end of March. The suspension will be in place for at least two months.
"All regularly scheduled Qantas and Jetstar international flights from Australia will be suspended from end March until at least end May 2020. Some flights may continue in order to maintain key links, based on ongoing discussions with the Federal Government," said Qantas in a statement.
An exact date for when the suspension will begin is yet to be announced.
On Thursday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia will banning the majority non-residents from entering the country.
In addition to passengers, this move will have an enormous impact on the Qantas and Jetstar workforce. The airline has confirmed it will be standing down the majority of its 30,000 employees until at least the end of May.
"The reality is we'll have 150 aircrafts on the ground and sadly there's no work for most of our people. rather than lose the highly skilled employees who we'll need after this crisis passes, we are instead standing down two-thirs of our 30,000 employees until at least the end of May," said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce in a report to the ASX.
Qantas also stated that periods of leave without pay will be actioned for some employees.
"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. Employees with low leave balances at the start of the stand down will be able to access up to four weeks’ leave in advance of earning it. Unfortunately, periods of leave without pay for some employees are inevitable."
Qantas' Board and senior executives have increased their salary reductions to 100 per cent until at least the end of the current financial year. Management bonuses have also been cancelled.
Earlier this week Virgin Australia also announced the cancellation of all international flights due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Virgin Australia will be suspending all international flights from March 30, as well as reducing its domestic flights by 50 per cent.