Qantas and Jetstar will cut 90 per cent of international capacity and 60 per cent of domestic until the end of May.
The reductions will including the grounding of 150 aircraft, almost all the group’s wide-body fleet.
In a sombre message released on Tuesday morning, the airline hinted it was shifting towards helping the national effort to keep the economy moving during the coronavirus crisis, with passenger jets now carrying cargo.
Qantas said, “Despite the deep cuts, the national carrier’s critical role in transporting people and goods on key international [and] domestic routes will be maintained.
“This includes using some domestic passenger aircraft for freight-only flights to replace lost capacity from regular scheduled services. Qantas’ fleet of freighters will continue to be fully utilised.”
The cuts are significantly higher than those announced last week, which the airline said “reflects the demand impact of severe quarantine requirements on people’s ability to travel overseas”.
It also cited the “general pullback from everyday activities” as the reason behind its domestic clampdown.
The previously announced reductions extended beyond May remain in place but are likely to be increased, the airline said.
Route by route details of the cuts will be revealed in the coming days.
Qantas said, “Travel demand is unlikely to rebound for weeks or possibly months and the impact of this will be felt across the entire workforce of 30,000 people.
“The Qantas Group is working to manage this impact as much as possible, including through the use of paid and unpaid leave.
“This will be in addition to measures already announced, including three months of no pay for the CEO and chairman, significant pay cuts for group executive management and board members, and cancelling of annual bonuses and an off-market buy-back.”