Qantas pauses plane deliveries from Airbus, Boeing due to virus

FILE PHOTO: Qantas planes are seen at Kingsford Smith International Airport, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Sydney, Australia, March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Qantas Airways Ltd QAN.AX said on Monday it had advised Airbus SE AIR.PA and Boeing Co BA.N that it did not expect to take delivery of any new planes in the near term as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline had expected to add three Boeing 787-9 jets to its fleet by the end of 2020 and to start taking delivery in August of the first of 18 Airbus A321neos due by 2022.

There is no longer a specific timeline for them to arrive because the market is too uncertain, a Qantas spokesman said, confirming a report on travel website Executive Traveller.

Many carriers around the world have grounded the bulk of their fleets and halted aircraft deliveries in response to the pandemic, leading Airbus and Boeing to cut production rates.

Qantas last week said it had shelved plans to order this year up to 12 A350s capable of the world’s longest commercial flights from Sydney to London. It said it was reviewing its fleet with the expectation that most international travel could take years to rebound.

More than 25,000 of the airline’s staff have been stood down until at least the end of June as the carrier is flying only 5% of its pre-crisis domestic passenger network and 1% of its pre-crisis international network.

An Airbus spokesman said his company did not comment on delivery schedules for airlines. Boeing did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Himani Sarkar