HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Qantas Airways said it would suspend its two direct flight routes from Australia to mainland China from Feb 9 in response to travel restrictions imposed by some countries due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Australian national carrier's direct flights from Sydney to Beijing and Sydney to Shanghai will be halted until March 29, it said in a statement published on Saturday (Feb 1).
Flights from Australia to Hong Kong would not be impacted by the change, it said, as it also warned that the Feb 9 date would be reviewed and could be brought forward depending on demand from customers.
Qantas said the decision was made after Singapore and the United States on Friday announced toughened measures to enter their countries for people who had recently travelled through mainland China.
"These entry restrictions pose significant logistical challenges for rostering crew to operate mainland services, leading to the need to temporarily suspend these flights," the airline said.
Qantas had previously flagged that its Sydney to Beijing route, which was flown five days a week, would end on Feb 23 but that date will now brought forward to Feb 9.
Qantas joins an increasing number of international airlines which are cancelling or severely reducing the number of flights to mainland China as a result of the coronavirus.
American Airlines on Friday announced cancellations to Beijing and Shanghai starting immediately and running through March 27, though it will continue to fly to Hong Kong.
United and Delta's last flights out of mainland China will be Feb 5, with cancellations running through March 28 and April 30 respectively.
The decision of the American carriers followed moves by Air France KLM, British Airways, Germany's Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic to halt flights.
Nearly 10,000 flights have been suspended since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, according to travel and data analytics firm Cirium.