American Airlines is pulling out of Australia after the federal government again cut the cap on air arrivals into the country.
It is the first global carrier to completely halt all flights. It will be a suspension lasting from the end of August to late October. It impacts American’s Los Angeles-Sydney route.
Australia decided to halve the caps in a bid to better manage hotel quarantine operations It takes the maximum number of inbound arrivals allowed from 6,070 passengers a week to just 3,035.
Trade group the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia expects more carriers to pull out.
“Despite all the effort they’ve put in, it gets to a point where the only rational response is to suspend operations to Australia, perhaps for a very long period of time,” said BARA Executive Director Barry Abrams.
“There’ll be a reduction in the level of connectivity available to Australians overseas to get home.”
The move effectively sees the Qantas partner airline pull out of Australian skies, given that LAX-Sydney was American’s only route ‘down under’.
American Airlines has recently begun flying its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner’s from Los Angeles to Sydney in a cargo-only mode without any paying passengers, although uniformed crew are on the flight to bring passengers and cargo back from Sydney to Los Angeles.
“On certain days in July and August, the Australian government has advised that we’re not able to transport customers on the route due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” American Airlines noted earlier this month.
As of July 14, international arrivals at Sydney Airport were capped to 1,505 per week, following the federal government’s decision to cut the number of international passengers allowed to enter Australia until early 2022 by half, from 6,070 to 3,035.
This sparked fears that some foreign airlines would cancel Australian flights.
The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, which represents 33 major international carriers that operate 90 percent of all international passenger flights to the country in normal times, warned last month that due to the drop in arrivals, some airlines may be forced to cancel flights.
Previously, many international airlines carried only about 35 passengers (or 10% of their total capacity) on each flight to Australia.
By Joe Cusmano