Update (20 February 2020): Qantas has announced that QF129/130 between Sydney and Shanghai will remain suspended until at least the end of May 2020.
Qantas will temporarily cancel all flights to mainland China from 9 February 2020, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Qantas currently operates flights from Sydney to Shanghai and Beijing. The Sydney-Shanghai flights are presently scheduled to resume at the beginning of the IATA northern summer scheduling period, on 29 March 2020. However, as Qantas was already planning to end flights to Beijing in March 2020 (for unrelated commercial reasons), 9 February will now mark the permanent suspension of Qantas’ Sydney-Beijing route.
In a statement, Qantas said that it is monitoring the situation closely and that these dates are subject to change:
In selecting a date to suspend services Qantas is working to balance high passenger numbers in both directions – including Australian residents wanting to return home from China – with the various travel restrictions being applied. 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 says it will contact passengers with affected bookings. Flights to Hong Kong continue to operate as normal.
New travel bans
When announcing the suspension on Saturday, Qantas cited logistical challenges for its crew operating its flights to and from mainland China. When this announcement was made, both Singapore and the United States had already placed bans on foreign residents from entering their respective countries if they have travelled to China in the past 14 days.
The Australian government has now also introduced a ban on travellers entering Australia if they have been in mainland China in the past 14 days. This is roughly the amount of time it takes for symptoms to appear after coming in contact with novel coronavirus. Exceptions apply for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members, as well as operating flight crews – who are being instructed to take special precautions after entering the country.
Many other airlines have also cancelled flights to China
Qantas is one of many global airlines that has temporarily cancelled all flights to mainland China due to the coronavirus outbreak. Air New Zealand, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways and Virgin Atlantic are also among the list of airlines that have announced further cancellations in recent days.
Some Chinese airlines are also suspending or reducing flights to Australia in light of reduced demand and the new travel ban. For example, Xiamen Airlines has cancelled all services to Australia while Air China is reducing frequencies on its routes from Beijing and Chengdu to Australia. And most China Southern flights to/from Australia are no longer available for booking until 28 March 2020.
Qantas operates Wuhan evacuation flight
Qantas last night operated a Boeing 747 charter flight to Wuhan on behalf of the Australian government. VH-OEE, operating as QF6031, was due to evacuate stranded Australians from Wuhan to Learmouth in the early hours of this morning. Those on board will be ultimately transported to Christmas Island, where they will be quarantined for two weeks before being allowed to return to mainland Australia if healthy.
This situation is constantly evolving, so be sure to check for updates from your airline if you’re planning imminent travel to or from China.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: China (Coronavirus) SARS like Respiratory illness – Effect on Travel