MIAMI – Qantas Airways (QF) has canceled its entire international schedule, apart from flights to and from New Zealand, until October 24 2020.

The news follows on from an announcement by Australias Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham, who revealed the country’s borders will remain closed for another four months. This would be in line with the cut-off to the Northern Winter 2020 flight schedule, as defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

This is a huge blow to Qantas (QF), who are already reported to lose AU$150b this year. Grounding their fleet for an extended period of time will cost the airline heavily, so keeping their domestic and trans-tasman schedule alive is very important from a business point of view.

Qantas keeping their scheduled flights to New Zealand comes as no surprise. It is widely rumored that Australia will be the first country that New Zealand will open its borders to, in a trans-Tasman travel bubble, eliminating the need for a 14-day quarantine.

Photo: Kaden Chang

Australia’s pandemic response

Australia closed its borders early on in the pandemic, but QF continued flying a limited schedule, mainly bringing Australian holidaymakers back home and returning stranded holidaymakers from Australia back to their home countries, all whilst transporting cargo at the same time.

Long-haul fleet currently grounded

Qantas currently has a fleet of 75 Boeing 737-800, however, only 19 of these aircraft are currently in service. The rest of their long haul fleet, compromising Airbus A380, Airbus A330 and Boeing 787-9, are all grounded until either passenger demand returns or Australian borders reopen.

Although we are in the middle of a global pandemic, QF organised a world first direct flight from Darwin (DRW) to London Heathrow (LHR) on their flagship Airbus A380, returning trapped holidaying brits back to the UK.

The flight departed in Sydney (SYD), stopped in Darwin (DRW) to refuel and then continued its direct flight to LHR. The Airbus A380 covered 8,629 miles with a flight time of 16 hours 49 minutes.

The usual QF1 route departs SYD and stops at Singapore (SIN) where is refuels, and off loads/on loads passengers, before its onward flight from SIN to LHR. Singapore closing its borders, rejecting all international flights, meant that QF had to re-route via DRW.