Australia’s Qantas Group will ground 150 aircraft — including “almost all” of its widebody fleet — amid deeper capacity cuts across both its international and domestic networks. 

From the end of March, the airline group will cut its international capacity by about 90% — more than tripling an earlier reduction of 23% capacity it announced a week ago. 

Qantas Group says the decision “largely reflects the demand impact of severe quarantine requirements on people’s ability to travel overseas”. In recent days, countries around the world have imposed a series of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus — including locking down cities, imposing mandatory quarantines, as well as imposing travel bans. 

The group will also slash capacity for its domestic network by 60%, up from the earlier announced reduction of 5%. 

The dramatic increase in capacity cuts “reflects a rapid decline in forward travel demand due to government containment measures, corporate travel bans and a general pullback from everyday activities across the community”, Qantas Group states. 

Both international and domestic capacity cuts will last till the end of May. 

“Previously announced cuts in place from end-May through to mid-September remain in place and are likely to be increased, depending on demand,” the group adds. 

The capacity cuts announced on 17 March will equate to about 150 aircraft grounded across the fleet. 

The group, which includes budget operator Jetstar, gave no indication about how long the grounding would last. 

It previously announced on 10 March that it was grounding eight of its 10 Airbus A380s until September, as well as 30 other Qantas and Jetstar aircraft. 

Cirium fleets data indicates that Qantas operates 131 aircraft, including 56 widebodies. Jetstar operates 11 Boeing 787s, 50 A320s and 8 A321s. 

The group adds that it is looking to use some domestic passenger aircraft for freight-only flights to replace lost capacity from the cancelled services, echoing moves by other major carriers in the region like Korean Air and Cathay Pacific. 

Qantas’ fleet of freighters will also continue to operate as usual, it adds.