Qantas suspends int'l flights till October, New Zealand may be possible exception

- A Monitor Desk Report 18 Jun, 2020 | 621 Views|-+
Dhaka: The flag carrier of Australia Qantas has suspended most of its international flights till October on the forecast that the coronavirus outbreak may last through most of the year.

"With Australia's borders set to remain closed for some time, we have cancelled most international flights until late October," Qantas said in a statement on June 18.

A Qantas spokesperson pointed out that the country's tourism minister, Simon Birmingham, recently said Australia's international borders with most countries are unlikely to reopen until 2021.

However, New Zealand, Australia's neighbour across the Tasman Sea, could be a possible exception. Politicians have discussed the possibility of creating a travel corridor between the two countries — though nothing has been formally agreed yet.

Currently, anyone travelling between the two countries is subject to a two-week quarantine. Non-residents of either country are banned from even flying those routes, with few exceptions.

"If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that's New Zealand," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in April.

Qantas said that it still has "some flights" scheduled between the two countries "in the coming months".

"Should travel between Australia and other countries open up and demand returns, we can add more flights back into our schedule," the airline added.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on airlines worldwide and caused USD 84 billion in losses for the industry this year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Qantas in February reported that the virus could reduce its profit by up to USD 100 million in the second half of its fiscal year, though that was well before the full scope of the pandemic was realised. Qantas is not expected to report earnings for the full year for another two months.

Although Qantas is cancelling most of its international flights, a spokesperson for the airline said that it is still seeing increasing demand for travel within Australia as local restrictions are slowly lifted.

Qantas Group's domestic passenger numbers within the country doubled this week to 64,000 people.

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