Qantas has cut its domestic flying by 60 per cent and is expected to ground more planes as states close off their borders, while two-thirds of its workforce – 20,000 people – have been stood down.
“There has never been a travel environment in Australia as restricted as the one we see today,” said Virgin chief executive Paul Scurrah.
“The extraordinary steps we’ve taken have been in response to the federal and state governments’ latest travel advice.”
Mr Scurrah said he was aware of how much his workers were hurting and the “very tough decisions have weighed heavily on me and my leadership team”.
“We are talking to our teams and we are working hard to do what we can to protect jobs and extend payments for as long as possible.”
The airline said it was working with 25 partners to find short and long term job opportunities for stood down employees.
The financially troubled airline would return to the skies as soon as was viable, Mr Scurrah said, however he said how it operates “may look different when we get to the other side of this crisis”.
Virgin said it will continue to fly daily services to 17 destinations to transport essential services, critical freight and logistics. Services to 19 destinations will be suspended entirely.
The coronavirus – which has now killed 18,227 people globally – has obliterated airline demand internationally and within Australia, as states close borders and governments recommend against all but essential travel.
There are now 2043 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia and 407,485 cases worldwide.
Business reporter at The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.