Passengers due to fly with Qantas and Jetstar will be able to cancel bookings in exchange for credits as travel restrictions deepen with the coronavirus outbreak.
Qantas’s decision came after Australia imposed self-isolation restrictions on all arrivals to the country from midnight on Sunday.
Customers with new and existing bookings on domestic and international flights would be given the option to cancel their flights and receive travel credit, Qantas said.
“We understand that some customers would prefer not to travel at the moment,” Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully said.
“We have removed the standard change fees, where it applies, and are giving customers the option to cancel their flight and receive a travel voucher that can be used anywhere on our network at a later date.”
The changes apply to Qantas, Jetstar and QantasLink flights and apply until March 31 for travel until May 31.
However, the airline said passengers should not contact its call centres about the credit offer.
“Due to high demand, we are experiencing long call wait times,” it said.
Passengers should visit the Qantas or Jetstar websites to make the change to their booking. Flights booked through travel agencies or websites will need to be refunded through the same agency or site.
Qantas also said on Monday it would make further cuts to its flying schedule beyond those announced last week.
“We”re working through the implications for our schedule now given the expected impact on demand, with a view to announcing more detail as soon as possible,” a Qantas spokesman said on Monday.
Across the Tasman, Air New Zealand has offered credits, refunds or date changes to passengers booked to fly before March 31. On Saturday, New Zealand said it would require all incoming travellers to go into 14 days self-isolation on arrival in the country.
On Monday, the airline also said it would reduce long-haul capacity by 85 per cent in coming months and make some staff redundant as COVID-19 slashes demand for air travel.
New Zealand’s flag carrier put itself in a trading halt “to allow it time to more fully assess the operational and financial impacts of global travel restrictions”.
On Monday morning, Air NZ advised it would “significantly reduce” trans-Tasman flights, and operate a bare bones network to Asia and North America.
It will end flights between Auckland and Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Honolulu, Denpasar and Taipei from March 30 for three months.
Domestic capacity will be cut by a third but all destinations will remain.
Air NZ chief executive Greg Foran said the business was in discussions with the government for support.
“We are now accepting that for the coming months at least Air New Zealand will be a smaller airline requiring fewer resources, including people,” he said.
Mr Foran said the airline would work with unions that represented its 8000-strong workforce.
“These are unprecedented times that we are all having to navigate,” he said.