Coronavirus: Qantas cuts almost quarter of flights

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Boxes of face masks are loaded onto a Qantas A-380 aircraft at LAX Airport.

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Australia’s Qantas airline is making deeper cuts to its flights, with Asia and the US hit the hardest.

The company said it would reduce international flights by nearly 25% as it sees demand fall from passengers worried about the coronavirus.

Qantas and its budget airline Jetstar will reduce operations for the next six months.

It is the latest carrier to make cutbacks, aimed at weathering the storm from a sharp drop in passengers.

Qantas will ground eight of its 10 double-decker Airbus A380s and replace them with smaller planes while reducing the frequency of flights.

“We expect lower demand to continue for the next several months, so rather than taking a piecemeal approach we’re cutting capacity out to mid-September,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.

Mr Joyce said he will forgo some of his A$24m (£12m) salary while other Qantas executives will take a 30% pay cut during the downturn.

The widespread airline cuts follow the spread of the coronavirus into Europe and the US which has resulted in a significant drop in demand.

US carriers have been slashing flights, following the lead from Asian and European airlines. As the industry struggles, it is introducing hiring freezes and asking staff to take unpaid leave along with grounding planes.

The International Air Transport Association, a trade body, estimates the virus could reduce passenger revenue globally this year by between $63bn and $113bn.

UK-based Flybe was the first casualty, going into administration last week. Analysts warn others could follow.

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