Australian airline Qantas forced to cut services over coronavirus fears

Australian airline Qantas has announced it will reduce capacity by almost a quarter for the next six months due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

The airline said on Tuesday that a “sudden and significant drop” in demand meant it had to reduce the frequency of flights and the size of aircraft.

The cutbacks will see 38 aircraft grounded, services to London re-routed via Perth instead of Singapore and staff asked to take annual and unpaid leave.

Qantas will also adopt a number of cost-cutting measures, including Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce going unpaid for the remainder of the financial year.

In a statement, Mr Joyce said the moves are being made to ensure the airline “gets through this environment”.

“We’re in a good position to ride this out but we need to take steps to maintain this strength,” Mr Joyce said.

“When revenue falls you need to cut costs and reducing the amount of flying we do is the best way for us to do that.

“Less flying means less work for our people, but we know coronavirus will pass and we want to avoid job losses wherever possible. We’re asking our people to use their paid leave and, if they can, consider taking some unpaid leave, given we’re flying a lot less.

“It’s hard to predict how long this situation will last, which is why we’re moving now to make sure we remain well positioned. But we know it will pass and we’ll be well positioned to take advantage of opportunities when it does.”

The airline said affected customers would be contacted directly over the next week to assist with making alternative arrangements, unless they booked through travel agents.

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