Qantas Cuts All International Flights From Late March, Stands Down 20K Employees

Australian airline Qantas has announced the suspension of all regularly scheduled international flights from late March, in response to mounting concerns for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the Federal Government’s global ‘Do Not Travel’ warning.

In a statement, the airline said all international Qantas and Jetstar flights will be suspended from the end of the month until the end of May 2020 at the earliest.

Flights will continue for the next few days to help Australians abroad return home, the airline states.

Qantas has also outlined a 60% reduction to regularly scheduled domestic services.

The move is slated to have a drastic impact on the airline’s workforce, as Qantas states the bulk of its employees will be temporarily stood down.

“The reality is we’ll have 150 aircraft on the ground and sadly there’s no work for most of our people,” CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.

“Rather than lose these highly skilled employees who we’ll need when this crisis passes, we are instead standing down two-thirds of our 30,000 employees until at least the end of May.”

Qantas states employees will be able to access annual and long service leave, but maintained that “Unfortunately, periods of leave without pay for some employees are inevitable.”

The announcement comes as the airline industry rushes to adapt to travel bans spurred by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier this week, Virgin Australia also announced the suspension of all international services.

You can see which domestic services will be impacted here.