Due to the coronavirus situation, Qantas has announced its plans to make some significant cuts to its capacity, reducing it by almost a quarter for the next six months. Some of these changes will affect services to Singapore, as well as the operation of the recently-opened First Class lounge in Changi.
Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar will be reducing capacity by a total of 23%, with the cuts currently scheduled to last till mid-September 2020. In terms of geographical distribution:
- Asia will see a 31% capacity cut
- USA will see a 19% capacity cut
- UK will see a 17% capacity cut
- Trans-Tasman will see a 10% capacity cut
Instead of exiting routes, Qantas will be downgauging aircraft and reducing flight frequency. In particular, all but two of its A380-800s will be grounded or sent for maintenance and upgrades.
Here’s a summary of the routes which are affected by these changes:
What about us in Singapore?
Melbourne gets switched to an A330
QF 37/38 between Singapore and Melbourne (which operates 7 times a week) will be cancelled from 20 April to mid-September 2020, while QF 35/36 will be upgauged from a B787 to an A330 from 4 May to mid-September 2020.
Neither the B787 nor A330 have a First Class cabin, but the good news is they both have the same Business Class seat.
That wasn’t always the case- it was only in late 2019 that Qantas finished upgrading their final A330, removing the tired first-generation SkyBed seats and replacing them with the much more pleasant Business Suite.
Suspension of Sydney-Singapore-London route
QF 1/2 between Sydney, Singapore and London will also temporarily be cut from 20 April, as Qantas shifts the Sydney-Singapore-London routing to a Sydney-Perth-London one. This flight will also be downgauged from an A380 to a B787, for a loss of 250 seats.
Interestingly enough, this is arguably an upgrade for Business Class passengers, as the A380 has the rather underwhelming SkyBed. Qantas is in the process of upgrading its A380s to the Business Suite, but from what I understand the upgraded A380s aren’t deployed on a dedicated route so you’re basically playing roulette here.
Qantas First Class lounge at Changi to close
The rerouting of QF 1/2 means that Qantas will no longer operate any First Class routes out of Singapore, and as such, it’ll be closing the First Lounge until at least mid-September. That’s a shame, because it’s easily the best lounge in all of Changi.
Customers who are entitled to First Class lounge access (e.g Emirates First Class customers and oneworld Emeralds) will be invited instead to use the adjacent Qantas Business lounge. It’s still a decent facility, but obviously nowhere near the First Class standard.
Jetstar cutting routes to Taipei and Osaka
JetStar Asia is cutting capacity by almost 40%, and suspending the Singapore to Taipei/Osaka routes. I can’t imagine they’re seeing too much leisure travel at the moment, so it’s really not that surprising.
Qantas joins many other carriers in cutting back on capacity on account of the Covid-19 travel downturn. It’s interesting that they’ve scheduled these cuts all the way till mid-September, while other airlines have mostly made cuts till May/June. That said, given the outbreaks we’re seeing in Europe and the USA now, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.
A shame about the loss of the Qantas First lounge in Changi too, but there are more important issues to be concerned with in the grand scheme of things.