Australia's leading airline Qantas (ASX: QAN) has stopped short of blaming the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) for its decision to suspend two direct services to mainland China.
The company has cited rostering challenges as behind the decision to suspend flights connecting Sydney to Beijing and Shanghai from 9 February to 29 March 2020.
"This 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," the company said this morning.
"These entry restrictions pose significant logistical challenges for rostering crew to operate mainland China services, leading to the need to temporarily suspend these flights."
There is however no change to Qantas codeshare arrangements on China Eastern and China Southern flights, and Qantas emphasises services to Hong Kong will continue to operate.
The suspension may be brought forward if demand levels or other factors 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," says Qantas.
"Qantas is liaising closely with the Australian Government on the impact of these changes to citizens currently in mainland China, and continues to take advice from the World Health Organisation and Australia's Chief Medical Officer regarding the Coronavirus in its decision-making.
"As previously announced, Qantas' Sydney-Beijing service was scheduled to end on 23 February 2020 for commercial reasons. With this announcement, it will now end on 9 February instead."
Airlines such as British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France have temporarily cancelled all direct flights to and from China, while carriers including United Airlines, American Airlines, Air Canada, Air India, Air Asia, Finnair, Cathay Pacific and Korean Airlines have either cancelled certain routes or reduced schedules.
Air New Zealand has continued to maintain its direct services with mainland China with demand as the key factor,
Qantas shares were up 1.81 per cent at $6.485 at 12:40pm AEDT, amidst an industry-wide rebound for travel-related stocks including Sydney Airport (ASX: SYD), Virgin Australia (ASX: VAH), Flight Centre (ASX: FLT), Corporate Travel Management (ASX: CTD), Webjet (ASX: WEB).Never miss a news update, subscribe here. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
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