Australian airline Qantas is forcing most of its employees to stop working as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to gut its finances.
Australia’s flag carrier and its budget subsidiary Jetstar will “stand down” two thirds of their 30,000 employees until at least the end of May to preserve jobs for the long term, the company said Thursday. Workers will be able to use various kinds of paid leave while sidelined, but it’s “inevitable” that some will temporarily go without pay, the firm said.
“The reality is we’ll have 150 aircraft on the ground and sadly there’s no work for most of our people,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement. He added that the company was in talks with partner businesses, such as the Woolworths supermarket chain, about “temporary job opportunities” for its workers.
Joyce and other executives will not collect salaries through at least the end of Qantas’s financial year on June 30, according to a news release. The company said it has also canceled annual management bonuses.
The staffing reductions came alongside drastic cuts to Qantas and Jetstar flights as the coronavirus kneecaps demand for travel. Both carriers are suspending regularly scheduled international trips from Australia from the end of this month at least through May, though some flights may continue to “maintain key links,” Qantas Group said.
The group has also said Qantas and Jetstar will slash about 60 percent of their domestic capacity, largely by reducing the frequency of flights.
US airlines have also suffered from the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to travel restrictions in many countries. Delta, American, United and Southwest have all announced plans to cut flight capacity as the virus roils the industry.
Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways and Dubai-based Emirates have asked workers to take unpaid leave amid the outbreak.