Virgin Australia and Qantas expect further changes to their schedules after the Australian government advised against domestic travel to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Virgin Australia said in statement to the stock exchange today: “The Virgin Australia Group acknowledges the additional Covid-19 related travel restrictions announced by the federal and state governments on Sunday 22 March 2020 and expects a material reduction in its domestic capacity as a result.”
The airline had on 18 March already announced plans to suspend all international flying from 30 March to 14 June 2020 and cut domestic capacity by 50% until 14 June 2020.
After closing borders to non-residents last week, Australia moved on 22 March to tighten restrictions on domestic travel. Prime minster Scott Morrison said at a press conference: “After consulting premiers and chief ministers overnight, we have decided that we are moving immediately to recommend against all non-essential travel in Australia. So that is that all non-essential travel should be cancelled.”
Qantas, the country’s largest carrier, says it will also alter schedules as required.
“We’ll continue to adjust Qantas and Jetstar services as needed in light of the latest advice and restrictions from the federal, state and territory governments on non-essential travel,” it said via Twitter on 22 March after the new advice was announced.
Virgin Australia, which had on 13 March described domestic travel as a “bright spot”, adds it will provide more information in the coming days.
Australia’s move follows similar advice from New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who on Saturday advised New Zealanders to limit non-essential domestic travel.
Air New Zealand tells Cirium it expects to make an announcement on domestic capacity in the coming days.