Major Australian airline Qantas has announced plans to suspend all inbound and outbound flights to and from China amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
According to a statement on the Qantas News Room website, the airline will suspend all Chinese flights from February 9 after the 10th coronavirus case was confirmed in Australia on Saturday afternoon.
The news comes after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk proposed Australia should follow in the footsteps of the US by suspending incoming flights from China across all airlines.
According to a Qantas statement, two flight routes (Sydney-Beijing and Sydney-Shanghai) have been suspended from February 9 to 29 March as entry restrictions imposed by other countries have impacted Qantas crew who work on the international flights.
“These entry restrictions pose significant logistical challenges for rostering crew to operate mainland China services, leading to the need to temporarily suspend these flights,” the statement read.
As it currently stands, the restrictions will begin on February 9, but travellers are being urged to stay on alert as the suspension is subject to change as the situation evolves. Flights are currently set to resume on March 30, but this date will also continue to be reviewed on a regular basis as circumstances change.
The airline is currently working with the Australian Government and the World Health Organisation to bring passengers wanting to return home from China back to Australia before the suspension begins. It is unclear how many Australians are currently trying to return from China, or how the suspension will impact them, but Qantas has assured customers they are doing whatever possible to facilitate the return of as many passengers as possible.
Qantas has previously offered flexible options for passengers with boarding passes from 24 January to 31 March, giving customers the option to cancel their flight for a full refund or credit, or rebook their flight for a different date. However, logistical issues have forced the airline to suspend flights regardless of customers wishes.
Services to and from Hong Kong are currently exempt from the current travel restrictions and cancellations.
Passengers can check the Qantas website for regular updates and announcements regarding flights and travel restrictions amid the outbreak.
Ten people across Australia have tested positive to the coronavirus as of February 1 2020.