Qantas will temporarily cut two-thirds of its workforce as the airline suspends all international flights to comply with Australia’s current Level Four travel restrictions.
Qantas has a total workforce of 30,000 staff.
Travel bans on Australians means every overseas destination around the world is off the cards indefinitely as the government tries to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have cut international flights until at least the end of May.
In a release to the Australian Stock Exchange, Qantas said employees will be stood down until at least May.
Staff will be able to draw on annual and long service leave but leave without pay will be inevitable for some employees.
Qantas will also cut back domestic flights by 60%.
“With the Federal Government now recommending against all overseas travel from Australia, regularly scheduled international flights will continue until late March to assist with repatriation and will then be suspended until at least the end of May 2020,” Qantas said in a statement.
“As the national carrier, Qantas is in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government about continuation of some strategic links.”
“Additional support mechanisms will be introduced, including leave at half pay and early access to long service leave,” the statement continued.
“Employees with low leave balances at the start of the stand down will be able to access up to four weeks’ leave in advance of earning it. Unfortunately, periods of leave without pay for some employees are inevitable.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has enforced a rule that all international arrivals, including Australian citizens, must self-isolate for 14 days.
Those international visitors caught not self-isolated could cop a fine of up to $50k, depending on what state or territory they’re in.
At least 636 people in Australia have tested positive for COVID-19, while six people have died.
The virus has killed more than 8,200 people worldwide with infections reaching the 200,000 mark.
Qantas’ statement comes in the same week the airline announced it will cut international capacity by around 90% until at least the end of May.
The changes mean the grounding of 150 aircraft, up from plans to ground 38 announced last week.
A full list of Qantas, regional and Jetstar network changes can be found here.
CORRECTION: This article originally stated 30,000 staff would be temporarily stood down. It has been updated to two-thirds of the 30,000 staff.