Qantas Airways is slashing international flights by 90% until at least May, as coronavirus travel restrictions hammer bookings.
The Australian carrier said on Tuesday that the drastic reduction is because severe quarantine requirements are curbing people’s ability to travel overseas.
Qantas will also cut domestic capacity by about 60%.
An industry in crisis: The unprecedented travel restrictions and plunge in demand has prompted the worst aviation crisis in history. A growing number of countries, including the United States and Canada, are closing their borders to international travelers in an effort to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Government officials around the world are also urging citizens to avoid any non-essential travel and advising people to cancel or postpone events, such as concerts, sports, and even weddings.
Billions at stake: Global airlines stand to lose $113 billion in sales if the coronavirus continues to spread, according to the latest assessment from the International Air Transport Association.
The massive losses are prompting industry bodies to call on governments to help.
"Coordinated government and industry action is needed — now — if catastrophe is to be avoided," CAPA Centre for Aviation, a consultancy, said in a report published Monday.
The firm said most airlines in the world will be bankrupt by the end of May unless governments intervene. "Cash reserves are running down quickly as fleets are grounded, and what flights there are operate much less than half full.”
Last month, when the virus was still largely affecting the Asia-Pacific region, Qantas had already warned the coronavirus outbreak could reduce its profit by up to 150 million Australian dollars ($91.7 million) in the second half of its fiscal year.
The carrier's dramatic cuts to international flights on Tuesday is up from the 23% reduction it had announced just last week -- Qantas said that the plunge in demand and flight cuts will be felt across the business. The carrier, which employs 30,000 people, said it will roll out paid and unpaid leave. The company had previously said its CEO and chairman would receive three months of no pay.