Qantas will ground almost three quarters of its international fleet as countries across the world close their borders and tighten travel restrictions.
The carrier had already grounded 38 aircraft before the federal government announced mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all passengers arriving from overseas.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said there was little “indication that demand will return in the short term” following the “the dramatic decline in international bookings that we’ve already experienced”.
“We’re now also seeing a substantial drop in domestic travel demand as people begin to retreat from everyday activities,” Joyce said in an email to staff.
“This will have impacts for all of us. There are obviously major hardships ahead that will impact the entire group.”
Qantas and Jetstar have already offered a booking waiver to customers allowing them to cancel flights and receive a travel credit.
Airline analysis and consulting firm CAPA Centre for Aviation has warned that there is no end to the crisis in sight.
“Demand is drying up in ways that are completely unprecedented,” CPAPA said. “Normality is not yet on the horizon.”
To avoid a catastrophe, there needed to be immediate coordinated government and industry action, according to CAPA.
“As things stand, the likely tepid response to the airline crisis will equally be fragmented and nationally based. It will consist mostly of bailing out selected national airlines,” CAPA said.
“If that is the default position, emerging from the crisis will be like entering a brutal battlefield, littered with casualties.”