Qantas to keep flying to China despite virus
QANTAS is yet to join other major airlines in banning or scaling back flights to China amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Global carriers including British Airways have suspended all flights to mainland China, while others have dramatically scaled back services as the deadly virus continues to spread.
Qantas flights into and out of mainland China are so far unaffected as the airline continues discussions with the Federal Government to run an evacuation mission for Australians stranded in China's virus-plagued Hubei province.
It comes as Queensland Health confirms a 44-year-old man is being tested for coronavirus after he travelled on a Tigerair flight from Melbourne to Brisbane on January 22.
Authorities are now trying to contact other passengers on flight TT566.
On Wednesday, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline was continuing to review its underperforming Sydney-Beijing route.
The airline had already announced plans to axe that service from March, but Mr Joyce suggested that could happen sooner.
"We continue to review that, continue to review the loads, and whether we look to do that earlier or keep it operating until that date," Mr Joyce told reporters at the opening of a new pilot training school in Queensland.
He also said it was too early to say what impact the coronavirus outbreak might have on the carrier's business.
He said the most similar comparison to coronavirus was the 2003 SARS epidemic in 2003 that cost the airline $55 million in lost earnings over a six to eight-month period and led it to cut some international capacity.
Virgin Australia does not operate flights to mainland China. But it does operate a daily flight between Sydney and Hong Kong and a daily flight between Melbourne and Hong Kong, with the latter service scheduled to end on February 11 - a decision made before the outbreak.
In a statement on Thursday, Virgin Australia said it was closely following advice from Australian medical authorities and the World Health Organisation about precautions to minimise risks from the virus.