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Qantas is set to cancel nearly all its international flights until March 2021 as pandemic batters air travel

Qantas is testing a Boeing 787-9 to fly between New York and Sydney nonstop for the first time.

 

Written by: Natasha Turak, CNBC

Key Points:
• Qantas has removed the inventory for nearly all of its international flights until March of 2021, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter air travel.
• The airline announced in June that it was retiring its six Boeing 747 planes immediately, six months before initially planned, and slashing 20% of its staff.
• By April, air travel had fallen more than 90% from the previous year, according to IATA, in what it expects to be the worst year in the industry’s history.

Qantas has removed the inventory for nearly all of its international flights until March of 2021, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter air travel.

The Australian flagship carrier will only maintain a few flights to New Zealand, travel website Executive Traveller wrote this week, which are currently grounded until mid-August of this year.

Removing inventory means that the routes in question are no longer bookable, and typically precedes full cancellation, Conde Nast Traveler wrote on Monday. Previously booked flights have not been cancelled, but no new bookings can be made.

Qantas did not reply to request from CNBC for comment at time of publishing.

As pandemic lockdowns set in around the world and countries closed their borders to travelers, Qantas in March announced the suspension of all international flights until October, a date that now looks as though it has been extended to a full year. Alan Joyce, Qantas Airways CEO, told Australian media in June that he doesn’t see a substantial restart in airline services until at least July of next year.

The airline announced in June that it was retiring its six Boeing 747 planes immediately, six months before initially planned, and slashing 20% of its staff. It’s also grounded its fleet of double decker Airbus A380s — wide-body jets used for long haul travel — for the next three years, Conde Nast wrote.

The airline’s stock price has fallen just over 50% year to date, trading at $3.49 a share at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, down 0.57% from the previous day.

No airline has been spared the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic and its ensuing government-mandated lockdowns. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecast last month that airlines were on track to lose $84 billion this year, and another $15 billion in 2021.

In April, air travel fell more than 90% from the previous year, according to IATA, in what it expects to be the worst year in the industry’s history.

Australia is seen as having brought the virus largely under control through strict lockdown measures and border closures. It has also implemented a ban on its citizens traveling overseas and a 14-day quarantine for those returning to the country, measures which are still in place.

“We have to position ourselves for several years when revenue will be much lower,” Qantas’ Joyce said in a statement in June that outlined a three-year roadmap to restructure the airline. “And this means becoming a much smaller airline in the short term.”

 

 

 

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