World News

Qantas to slash 90% of international capacity as new virus restrictions bite

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Qantas Airways Ltd <QAN.AX> said on Tuesday it would cut its international capacity by around 90% until at least the end of May as travel demand to Australia plunges because of new restrictions on arrivals related to the coronavirus.

The changes, which include a 60% cut to domestic capacity, represent the grounding of 150 aircraft, up from plans to ground 38 announced last week.

Australia on Sunday said all international arrivals, including its own citizens, would need to self-isolate for 14 days, in a move that significantly dented demand for travel.

New Zealand, normally a popular destination for Qantas flights, announced similar measures on Saturday.

Qantas said it would have a significant labor surplus across its operations as a result and the impact was likely to be felt across its workforce of 30,000 people.

“The Qantas Group is working to manage this impact as much as possible, including through the use of paid and unpaid leave,” the airline said in a statement.

“This will be in addition to the measures already announced, including three months of no pay for the CEO and chairman, significant pay cuts for group executive management and board members and cancelling of all annual bonuses and an off-market buyback,” it said.

The route-by-route impact will be announced in the coming days, the airline said, noting that it was grounding almost all of its widebody fleet.

Rival Air New Zealand Ltd <AIR.NZ> said on Monday it would cut long-haul capacity by 85%, while Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd <VAH.AX> had its credit rating downgraded.

(Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast.)