Qantas axes first class as downturn grounds travelers

Mon May 25, 2009 5:45am EDT
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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Australia's Qantas Airways has scrapped first class on some routes, as the global economic downturn grounds many travelers and makes others think twice about paying for a little in-flight luxury.

Qantas said it had temporarily taken first class off the San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Melbourne-Hong Kong-London routes, offering business, premium economy and economy classes only.

"As a result of the economic downturn Qantas, like many other international airlines, has experienced reduced demand in premium cabins," Rob Gurney, Qantas Commercial's executive manager, said in a statement.

"We will monitor demand on these routes carefully and aim to reintroduce our first class offering as soon as possible."

Qantas, Australia's biggest airline, has been suffering from the global economic slowdown like many other carriers.

Last month, it warned it would post its first second-half loss in six years as well as unveiling capacity and job cuts to battle a slump in passenger demand and rising competition.

World airlines are set to lose $4.7 billion this year as a result of the global downturn that has shrunk passenger and cargo demand, industry body The International Air Transport Association estimated at the end of March.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

<p>A Qantas Boeing 747 takes off from Changi Airport in Singapore in this May 13, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash</p>