Australian flag carrier Qantas announced on Thursday that it has halted all international flights and temporarily cut two thirds of its workforce, in an effort to endure mass travel disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The airline made the announcement after already issuing a 90 per cent reduction in international services earlier in the week, along with a 60 per cent drop in domestic services which remained in place, reports Xinhua news agency. Two-thirds of the airline's 30,000 employees will be cut until at least the end of May.
Some will be forced to use annual and sick leave where it is available, wile others will be forced leave without pay.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said that the measures were necessary to preserve jobs in the future, and that the company was doing everything it could to make leave entitlements available and support employees.
"The efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus have led to a huge drop in travel demand, the likes of which we have never seen before. This is having a devastating impact on all airlines," Joyce said.
"We're in a strong financial position right now, but our wages bill is more than A$4 billion a year. With the huge drop in revenue we're facing, we have to make difficult decisions to guarantee the future of the national carrier."
In addition, senior executives and the Board members have increased their salary reductions from 30 per cent to 100 per cent until at least the end of the financial year, joining Joyce who already was to take no pay for the period.
Australia has reported 565 coronavirus cases with six fatalities.