Qantas boss grounds more flights as demand drops

 

 

Qantas will ground almost three quarters of its international fleet as tight border controls and travel restrictions hit home for the airline.

The airline had already grounded 38 aircraft - including eight A-380s - before the government announced mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all passengers arriving from overseas.

In a candid memo to all staff yesterday chief executive Alan Joyce said the demand for international travel is "evaporating" with little "indication that demand will return in the short term".

Mr Joyce, who has stopped receiving pay during the crisis, said the strict quarantine restrictions "will increase the dramatic decline in international bookings that we've already experienced".

One of the first flights to arrive in Australia from overseas during the self-isolation measures. Picture: John Grainger
One of the first flights to arrive in Australia from overseas during the self-isolation measures. Picture: John Grainger


The biggest cuts to flights are expected to be international and in-line with struggling overseas airlines that have cut services by 70 to 80 per cent.

But the domestic fleet will also be hit.

"We're now also seeing a substantial drop in domestic travel demand as people begin to retreat from everyday activities," Mr Joyce wrote. "This will have impacts for all of us. There are obviously major hardships ahead that will impact the entire group."

Masked passengers head for their flights at Sydney International Airport. Picture: John Grainger
Masked passengers head for their flights at Sydney International Airport. Picture: John Grainger

Qantas and Jetstar have already offered a booking waiver to customers allowing them to cancel flights and receive a travel credit.

The airline is expected to further update passengers and staff with detail on axed services as early as today.

A spokesman said: "We're working through the implications for our schedule now given the expected impact on demand, with a view to announcing more detail as soon as possible."

Flight crews take precautions at Sydney International Airport. Picture: John Grainger
Flight crews take precautions at Sydney International Airport. Picture: John Grainger

Mr Joyce's memo to staff was slightly more upbeat than the one British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz wrote to his 45,000 staff at the ­weekend.

"Some of us have worked in aviation through the global financial crisis, the SARS outbreak and 9/11," Mr Cruz said in the memo.

"What is happening right now as a result of COVID-19 is more serious than any of these events. It is a crisis of global proportions like no other we have known."

German airline Lufthansa has grounded two thirds of its jets and cut its 70 daily flight to the US to just four.