Qantas will suspend all flights to mainland China from February 9, joining a growing roster of worldwide airlines which are severing air routes to mainland China in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The airline’s Sydney-Shanghai service will be on hold from February 9 to March 29, while the closure of the Sydney-Beijing service – which the airline had last year said would end on February 23, owing to weak demand from travellers and increased competition on flights to China – has been moved forward to February 9.
However, in a statement issued to the media, Qantas notes that "the suspension may be brought forward if demand levels or other factors change. The date for flights to resume will also be regularly reviewed based on the circumstances."
Qantas' daily flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Hong Kong will continue without interruption.
The airline says its decision "follows entry restrictions imposed by countries including Singapore and the United States, which impact the movement of crew who work across the Qantas International network."
"These entry restrictions pose significant logistical challenges for rostering crew to operate mainland China services, leading to the need to temporarily suspend these flights."
Travellers booked on the suspended Sydney-Shanghai and Sydney-Beijing flights will be contacted by Qantas.
Air New Zealand has also suspended its Auckland-Shanghai service from 9 February to 29 March 2020, citing "the potential consequence of international travel bans on crew logistics and a further decline in customer bookings on the route over the next two months."
British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Finnair, Qatar Airways, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Air Canada have all suspended flights to and from China to dates ranging from mid-February to April 30.
Singapore Airlines and SilkAir are winding back the number of flights between Singapore and China – including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen – while Cathay Pacific will be “progressively reducing the capacity” of its flights to and from mainland China “by 50% or more” until the end of March.