Qantas announced on 1 February that it will suspend flights to mainland China, in a decision that comes as a host of international carriers are withdrawing Chinese services.
In response to the worsening Coronavirus outbreak impacting China, Australia’s largest carrier advised it will suspend mainland services from 9 February, until 29 March 2020.
The suspension impacts Qantas’ Sydney-Beijing and Sydney-Shanghai services; with the former having already been flagged for cancellation from 23 February due to ‘commercial reasons’.
Qantas says the decision to suspend flights comes amid restrictions being imposed by countries such as Singapore and the United States, which “impact the movement of crew who work across the Qantas International network.”
In a written media statement, the airline provided further insight into the suspension date, which currently won’t come into effect for over a week: “In selecting a date to suspend services Qantas is working to balance high passenger numbers in both directions – including Australian residents wanting to return home from China – with the various travel restrictions being applied.”
“The suspension may be brought forward if demand levels or other factors change. The date for flights to resume will also be regularly reviewed based on the circumstances.”
Qantas’ announcement comes amid growing fears of the global spread of Coronavirus.
Last week Jetstar Asia (in which Qantas holds a 49% stake) suspended flights to the Chinese cities of Hefei, Guiyang and Xuzhou.
Other major international carriers, including British Airways as well as American, Delta and United Airlines have recently announced similar plans to temporarily withdraw from mainland China.
Meanwhile both Qantas and Virgin Australia will maintain their existing services to Hong Kong.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Aviation, “no Virgin Australia-operated flights have been cancelled as a result (of Coronavirus)”
“We have a commercial policy in place for any guest travelling to and from, or transiting through mainland China including informal connectors on other airlines, as well as our codeshare partners who operate to and from mainland China.”