Everything's grounded... Global airlines are hoping governments will throw them a lifeline before summer to stay operational. Image Credit: AFP

Sydney: Australia’s Qantas Airways is cutting almost all overseas flights and more than half its domestic schedule as the coronavirus outbreak paralyzes travel worldwide. International capacity will be cut by about 90 per cent until at least the end of May, the airline said. Domestic capacity will fall 60 per cent over the same period.

Government travel bans, quarantines and a growing fear of becoming infected is bringing flying to a standstill across the globe - and pushing many travel companies to the brink. Qantas said it had suffered a “precipitous decline in demand” and any rebound could be months away.

The Qantas stock has lost 60 per cent this year.

The cuts are the airline’s fourth round of reductions in less than a month, and represent the grounding of around 150 aircraft. The airline said that previously-announced cuts that are in place until mid-September are likely to be increased, depending on demand.

In the early days of the health crisis, Qantas considered its domestic business, the profit engine of the group, largely insulated from the outbreak.

“Corporate travel bans and a general pullback from everyday activities” has led to a rapid decline in demand at home, too, the airline said.

US carriers have their own issues

In the US, Delta Air Lines Inc. is in talks to raise up to $4 billion in new debt, and American Airlines Group Inc. is in discussions to take on billions of dollars in new borrowings amid a broader dash for cash by airlines.

The pandemic will bankrupt most airlines worldwide by the end of May unless governments and the industry take coordinated steps to avoid such a situation, Sydney-based consultancy CAPA Centre for Aviation has warned.