17/03/2020 10:26 AM AEDT | Updated 17/03/2020 10:38 AM AEDT

Coronavirus: Qantas Grounds 90% Of International Flights As Demand Drops

The cuts will last into May.

SOPA Images via Getty Images
Qantas grounds most international flights. (Photo by May James/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Qantas announced it would cut its international capacity by around 90% until at least the end of May as travel demand to Australia plunges because of new restrictions on arrivals related to the coronavirus.

The changes mean the grounding of 150 aircraft, up from plans to ground 38 announced last week. This includes 60% of the airline’s domestic flights. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday said all international arrivals, including its own citizens, would need to self-isolate for 14 days, in a move that significantly dented demand for travel.  Those international visitors caught not self-isolated could cop a fine of up to $50k, depending on what state they’re in. 

At least 378 people in Australia have tested positive while five people have died after contracting COVID-19, one in WA, three in NSW and one in Queensland.

The virus has killed more than 4,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace.

Qantas said it would have a significant labour surplus across its operations as a result and the impact was likely to be felt across its workforce of 30,000 people.

“The Qantas Group is working to manage this impact as much as possible, including through the use of paid and unpaid leave,” the airline said in a statement.

“This will be in addition to the measures already announced, including three months of no pay for the CEO and chairman, significant pay cuts for group executive management and board members and cancelling of all annual bonuses and an off-market buyback,” it said.

The route-by-route impact will be announced in the coming days, the airline said, noting that it was grounding almost all of its widebody fleet.

Air New Zealand will cut long-haul capacity by 85%. 

This is a developing story.

Reporting by Jamie Freed of Reuters contributed to this report.