Qantas has announced further cuts to its international network. Capacity will be reduced by 25% over the next six months amid a series of sweeping changes that will see over half the A380 fleet grounded and route and aircraft changes elsewhere.
Eight A380s will be grounded until mid-September 2020. That’s two more than the six Simple Flying predicted yesterday. In addition, two further A380s are undergoing cabin refurbishments and heavy maintenance. That will leave just two A380s in the skies.
The flagship QF1/2 Sydney – Singapore – Heathrow route will become Sydney – Perth – Heathrow from 20 April 2020. The A380 that usually operates QF1/2 will be replaced by a smaller 787. The upshot will be two daily 787 services between Perth and London.
The Boeing 787 has about 250 fewer seats than the A380.
Qantas attributes this move to the success of its Melbourne – Perth – Heathrow service. More likely was a need to overfly Asia at the present time. Dubai was another option speculated upon as Qantas previously flew there and has a close relationship with Emirates.
Brisbane – Chicago launch deferred
In addition, the highly publicized Dreamliner route between Brisbane and Chicago that was set to commence in April 2020 has been pushed back to September.
The daily A380 service between Sydney and Dallas Fort Worth is being downgraded to a 787 from 20 April 2020. The daily A380 service between Melbourne and Los Angeles will also be downgraded to a 787 from 1 June 2020.
The only regular A380 service left intact looks to be between Sydney and Los Angeles.
A raft of aircraft changes to existing routes
Effective 30 March 2020, the 747 operating the Sydney – Haneda – Sydney route will be replaced by an A330.
Between Melbourne and Singapore, the daily QF37/38 service will be canceled effective 20 April 2020. The remaining daily service, the Boeing 787 QF 35/36 service will be swapped out for an A330.
The brand new service between Brisbane and San Francisco is being suspended 8 April 2020.
Who made the call on the last ever Qantas 747 to North America? The daily Boeing 787 service between Sydney and San Francisco will be operated by a 747-400 from 18 April 2020. Direct flights between Melbourne and San Francisco are being suspended from 18 April 2020.
The seasonal Qantas service between Sydney and Vancouver is suspended over June and July 2020.
Finally, the planned introduction of a Boeing 787 between Sydney and Santiago is now pushed back to 1 August 2020.
Qantas doesn’t want to suspend routes altogether
Qantas says this strategy is their preferred option to exiting routes altogether. In a statement, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said;
“In the past fortnight, we’ve seen a sharp drop in bookings on our international network as the global coronavirus spread continues.
“We expect lower demand to continue for the next several months, so rather than taking a piecemeal approach we’re cutting capacity out to mid-September. This improves our ability to reduce costs as well as giving more certainty to the market, customers and our people.
“We retain the flexibility to cut further or to put capacity back in as this situation develops.”
Existing service cuts extended
Several existing route suspensions have been extended. Qantas flights between Sydney and Shanghai are now suspended until mid-July. Flights between Sydney and Hong Kong will stay at the reduced single service a day for the time being. Flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong are staying at four flights a week and flights between Brisbane and Hong Kong are staying at three flights a week.
In terrible news for lounge lizards, the new Qantas First Class lounge in Singapore is temporarily closing. Passengers will be redirected to the Business Class Lounge. Given the absence of first-class services through Singapore, the move is logical but there will be plenty of sad-faced Plats and P1s passing through Changi. Luckily, the Emirates Lounge in Singapore remains open.
These latest cuts mean Qantas has grounded the equivalent of 38 aircraft, reducing overall capacity by a quarter over the next six months. It suggests Qantas isn’t seeing an end to this anytime soon. As Mr Joyce says, the airline retains “the flexibility to cut further or to put capacity back in as this situation develops.”