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It is hard to recall the times when the fear of air travel was spreading like wildfire through the whole globe as it is doing right now. And we do not talk about those suffering from aerophobia. This is the novel coronavirus which makes passenger numbers drastically decline.
In some cases these are governmental decisions to suspend or limit travel possibilities, in other cases these are personal decisions of travellers who take precautionary steps to minimise the risk of contracting the virus.
Nevertheless, the most badly affected in this chain appear to be the airlines, the existence of which has recently become the most complicated and even endangered.
Following the confusion on the Asian market after the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, the turn came to Europe and North America which have been thrown into chaos as well.
Considering all the restrictions and decline in travel demand, airlines are severely exiting some routes, cutting their capacity, grounding aircraft, asking employees to take unpaid leave. Now these are the key steps to stay afloat and maintain business through the hard times.
Qantas Takes Harsh Measures As Well
One of the impacted companies is also Qantas Group which has announced further cuts to its international flying, reducing capacity by almost a quarter for the next six months. All the cuts equal to grounding 38 Qantas and Jetstar aircraft across the international and domestic network.
According to a statement, the major cuts are still made on the Asian routes. Now also the frequency of flights to the US, the UK and Trans-Tasman has been reduced.
Nevertheless, instead of exiting the routes, Qantas is determined to maintain connectivity by using smaller planes and reducing the number of flights.
In particular, this impacts Qantas Airbus A380 fleet. “Eight of the airline’s largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, will be grounded until mid-September. A further two A380s are undergoing scheduled heavy maintenance and cabin upgrades, leaving two of its A380s flying”, the company added.
In addition to that, some extra steps to reduce the expenses were taken, including removal of bonuses, 30% reduction of pay to Group Executive Management (Group CEO will take no salary), freeze of all non-essential recruitment and consultancy work as well as request for “all Qantas and Jetstar employees to take paid or unpaid leave in light of reduced flying activity”.
Aircraft Order for the ‘Project Sunrise’ to Be Delayed?
The fate of the ‘Project Sunrise’ is also unknown. Qantas was expected to place an order for 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft until 31 March, 2020, however, taking into account the current situation, it is difficult to imagine the airline taking this risky step.
Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas Group, has confirmed to Executive Traveller that he has asked Airbus to postpone the deadline for ordering new aircraft.
“We would rather wait for the coronavirus issue to be out of the way before we put a firm aircraft order in for the A350,” Joyce said. The Airbus has not provided the answer yet, although Qantas hopes it to be positive.