Qantas like all other airlines around the world are reeling as containment measures tighten to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Two days after slashing international flights by 90 percent, Qantas has announced it will suspend overseas services altogether by the end of March. The tipping point for Qantas was the new requirement for anyone arriving in Australia from overseas to self-isolate for 14 days, which virtually killed off any remaining demand for travel.

Domestic flights are to continue but at a significantly reduced regularity. In an earlier email to employees, chief executive Alan Joyce said that the coronavirus was the “single biggest shock that global aviation had ever experienced”.

The decision has major ramifications on Qantas and Jetstar’s 30,000-strong workforce, with two-thirds, or 20,000 people to be stood down until at least the end of May.

During the stand-down, employees will be able to draw down on annual and long service leave and additional support mechanisms will be introduced including leave at half-pay and early access to long service leave.

Alan Joyce acknowledged that this is a very hard set of circumstances for Qantas’
employees. With most of their aircraft on the ground with hardly any work for staff and Qantas ‘wage bill of more than $4bn, a year combined with a huge drop in revenue Alan Joyce said that Qantas had to make difficult decisions to guarantee the future of the airline.

Qantas and other airlines including Virgin Australia and REX were given some relief by a Federal Government financial assistance package worth $715 million. The package, to be backdated to February 1, will see airlines reimbursed for government-imposed charges, such as Airservices Australia fees, fuel excise, and regional aviation security charges, until April 30.

Source: Coronavirus: Airlines handed $715m bailout by Robyn Ironside The Australian March 17th, Single biggest shock for Qantas: Alan Joyce by Robyn Ironside The Australian March 18th, Coronavirus: Qantas stops international flight, stands down workers by Robyn Ironside The Australian March 18th.

David Broadbridge

David Broadbridge holds a Bachelor of Commerce at the UNSW and a Dip Ed at UNE. He is the former Head Business Studies teacher at Pymble Ladies College. Follow David on Twitter or read his Qantas News Blog.