Wuhan coronavirus: Qantas suspends direct flights to China from Feb 9

Wuhan coronavirus: Qantas suspends direct flights to China from Feb 9

Qantas
A Qantas A380 aircraft takes off from Sydney International Airport. (File photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)

HONG KONG: Qantas Airways said it will suspend its two direct flight routes from Australia to mainland China from Feb 9 in response to travel restrictions imposed by some countries due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Australian national carrier's direct flights from Sydney to Beijing and Sydney to Shanghai will be halted until Mar 29, it said in a statement published Saturday (Feb 1).

Flights from Australia to Hong Kong would not be impacted by the change, it said, as it also warned the Feb 9 date would be reviewed and could be brought forward depending on demand from customers.

Qantas said the decision was made after Singapore and the United States on Friday announced toughened measures to enter their countries for people who had recently travelled through mainland China.

READ: Wuhan coronavirus - Scoot to suspend all flights between Singapore and mainland China

"These entry restrictions pose significant logistical challenges for rostering crew to operate mainland services, leading to the need to temporarily suspend these flights," the airline said.

Qantas had previously flagged its Sydney to Beijing route, which was flown five days a week, would end on February 23 but that date will now brought forward to Feb 9.

Qantas joins an increasing number of international airlines which are cancelling or severely reducing the number of flights to mainland China as a result of coronavirus.

READ: Wuhan coronavirus: Singapore to widen travel restrictions to all new visitors who recently travelled to mainland China

Qantas subsidiary Jetstar Asia also said that it will suspend all remaining services from Singapore to the cities of Shantou and Haikou until Mar 31, when the situation will be reviewed. 

All scheduled services from Haikou to Singapore will operate from Feb 1 with the final flight scheduled for Feb 8. 

"A reduced number of services from Shantou to Singapore will operate on Feb 1, Feb 5 and Feb 7 with the final flight on Feb 7," the carrier added. 

American Airlines on Friday announced cancellations to Beijing and Shanghai starting immediately and running through Mar 27, though it will continue to fly to Hong Kong.

United and Delta’s last flights out of mainland China will be Feb 5, with cancellations running through Mar 28 and Apr 30 respectively.

The decision of the American carriers followed moves by Air France KLM SA, British Airways, Germany’s Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic to halt flights.

Nearly 10,000 flights have been suspended since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, according to travel and data analytics firm Cirium.

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Source: Reuters/rw/zl

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