Australian carrier Qantas has announced that it will stand down two-thirds of its 30,000 employees until at least the end of May due to the coronavirus pandemic. The airline, along with its subsidiary Jetstar, also plans to suspend all international flights as of late March and reduce domestic flights by 60 percent starting this week. The companies are grounding more than 150 aircraft including all of Qantas’ A380s, 747s and B787-9s and Jetstar’s B787-8s.
“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,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. “We’re in a strong financial position right now, but our wages bill is more than $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.”
According to Joyce, the airline is exploring temporary job opportunities for its employees with partners such as supermarket Woolworths. Qantas further announced that it is deferring payment of a $201 million shareholder dividend until September 2020. Group management executives and the company’s board will be taking no pay until at least the end of the financial year and management bonuses have been canceled.