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Qantas fires 20,000 of its 30,000 workforce. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says 80% of Australia’s virus cases are result of contacts with infected persons outside of Australia

April 1, 2020

“The reason for [the travel ban] is about 80% of the cases we have in Australia are either the result of someone who has contracted the virus overseas or someone who has had a direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas, Morrison said. The overwhelming proportion of cases in Australia have been imported.”

3/19/20, Australian government moves to close borders as new coronavirus cases continue to rise,” UK Guardian, Murphy, Karp

“Scott Morrison announces a travel ban as the RBA cuts rates and joins the government in pumping $100bn into the economy.”…

“Addressing the looming travel ban, Morrison said it was “essential” to close the border to foreigners by Friday night because of the way the virus was currently spreading in the community.

Queensland on Thursday recorded 50 new cases of the coronavirus in 24 hours, the biggest single day increase. New South Wales added another 40.

“The reason for [the travel ban] is about 80% of the cases we have in Australia are either the result of someone who has contracted the virus overseas or someone who has had a direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas, Morrison said. “The overwhelming proportion of cases in Australia have been imported.”

The travel ban contains exemptions for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family, including spouses, legal guardians and dependants. New Zealand citizens who live in Australia as Australian residents will also be exempt, as will New Zealanders transiting to New Zealand. The government says exemptions for Pacific Islanders transiting to their home countries will continue to apply.

The government is in discussions with airlines about continuing some international flights for the purpose of bringing Australians back from overseas, and for continuing the movement of goods and freight.

The RBA on Thursday committed to providing a three-year funding facility worth at least $90bn – a measure that will allow banks to lend to small business through the economic downturn. The government unveiled a synchronised measure allocating another $15bn so small banks and credit unions can supply low-cost loans to consumers and small business.

Morrison described the unprecedented intervention as “a very significant injection to support Australians, to support our economy, to support business, to support jobs, as we all go across on this bridge together to the other side, where on the other side we know that the Australian economy will be stronger, Australians will be healthier and Australian life can return to what we knew it to be.”

Frydenberg said the intervention had a simple purpose: “To decrease the cost of credit and to increase its flow.”

The difficult conditions triggered by the pandemic were underscored early on Thursday when Australia’s national carrier Qantas said it would stand down two-thirds of its 30,000-strong workforce without pay and end international flights– a decision that came despite a $715m rescue package for the Australian airline sector, unveiled by the Morrison government on Wednesday.”…

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Additional source:Qantas said it would stand down two-thirds of its 30,000 workers” due to the virus.

3/19/20, “Qantas, Virgin Australia running out of options, Financial Review, Lucas Baird

Qantas said it would stand down two-thirds of its 30,000 workers in response to the crisis and has deferred a $201 million dividend scheme until September too.

The latter could even face further delays with chief executive Alan Joyce telling reporters “every stakeholder has to and is contributing to making sure Qantas survives.”

Shares in the airline slumped another 15.4 per cent to $2.14 – a level not seen since November 2014 – on Thursday.

Already, British domestic carrier Flybe has collapsed, and China’s HNA Group has moved into state hands. Other airlines like Korea Airlines are reportedly on the brink.

Mr Harbison called Qantas a “useful benchmark” for the crisis, pointing out investors had responded positively to the airline’s interim results just a month ago when shares were worth $6.67 each.

This is probably the financially safest airline in the world, with a highly dominant position in a valuable domestic market that will one day inevitably be highly profitable again.”

“It could be this is the nadir; but even if it is, we’re going to be bumping along the bottom for some time.”

Earlier this week, Qantas has said it would stop 90 per cent of international flying in response to the virus and the government offered the industry a $715 million support package.

That wasn’t enough to avoid the latest move, which doesn’t exclude unscheduled international flights operated at the behest of the government.

Nevertheless, these measures match steps taken at competitor Virgin Australiawhich decided to ground its international operation on Wednesday.

Mr Joyce admitted the airline might have to go deeper with its previously announced 60 per cent cut to the domestic operation as well in light of Tasmania imposing self-isolation restrictions on non-essential travellers.

“We made decisions on the schedule on Tasmania yesterday and, today, it is very different,” Mr Joyce said. “We’ll have to adjust them because there will be less demand and there will have to be capacity and aircraft coming out.”

Further, the airline is confident that it can use Boeing 787 planes to secure new funding.

Chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson was hopeful to announce the financing sometime over the next week, and Mr Joyce said lenders know Qantas is not at risk of collapsing.

Qantas will not be going under — I think the lenders know that,” Mr Joyce said. “We have one of the healthiest balance sheets out there so we will have plenty of liquidity to last a very, very long time.”

He said, overall, that this was a “terrible day” for Qantas. “I’ve never thought as the CEO that I would have to stand down two-thirds of our workers and maybe more if it continues this way.”

“These are the worst times we have ever seen in aviation. This is the biggest crisis aviation’s ever gone through.”…

Senior executives and the board will now take no pay for the remainder of the financial year. Mr Joyce and Chairman Richard Goyder had agreed to take no salary last week.

Qantas is working with Woolworths to try and secure temporary jobs for the stood-down workers.

Qantas subsidiary Jetstar Asia will suspend all flights from March 23 until at least April 15 and Jetstar Japan has suspended all international flights and cuts domestic operations.”…

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