Qantas is standing down 2500 workers for at least two months as COVID-19 continues to play havoc with Australia's state borders.
Domestic pilots, cabin crew and airport workers employed by Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar will be stood down.
Most of them are based in NSW, but they won't lose their jobs.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce expects Sydney to remain closed off for at least another two months because of its ongoing coronavirus outbreak and lockdown.
"This is clearly the last thing we wanted to do," he told reporters on Tuesday.
"We're now faced with an extended period of reduced flying and that means no work for some of our pilots, cabin crew and airport workers."
Employees stood down in nationally-recognised hotspot areas are eligible for commonwealth disaster payments of up to $750 a week.
Workers stood down outside those areas will be paid through a newly-announced federal aviation package.
Airlines that can show a 30 per cent downturn since Sydney became a nationally-recognised hotspot can claim $750 a week for 50 per cent of directly employed frontline staff.
The payments are predicated on workers being stood down but they cannot be sacked.
Affected employees will be given two weeks notice and paid until mid-August.
The stand down is slated to go for two months at least.
It could be longer if Sydney cannot open up and southeast Queensland's outbreak turns into a prolonged crisis.
"Fortunately, we do know that once borders do reopen, travel is at the top of people's list," the Qantas boss said.
Mr Joyce added the company had received $1.6 billion in government assistance since the start of the pandemic.
Nearly $1 billion of that was for the previous JobKeeper program. Additional money supported freight flights.
Qantas had also raised $2.6 billion in debt and $1.4 billion in equity to keep going.
"There's this misnomer that's misleading that Qantas, somehow, has had this huge grant from the government, like other airlines have around the world, to get through COVID. That has not happened," Mr Joyce said.
"We're getting support for our people, which is absolutely right and that's where I want the support to be."
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the aviation package was designed to ensure airlines could resume domestic flights quickly once borders opened.
"A key condition of the support we are providing is that no jobs are lost, no one is fired, and that workers who are stood down during reduced periods of activity will have a job to come back to," Mr Joyce said.
The Transport Workers' Union flagged confusion about which aviation workers would receive the wage subsidy.
"There will be thousands of aviation workers terrified today about the future," the union's national secretary Michael Kaine said.
"They are being stood down from their jobs and some won't be able to access support."
Australian Associated Press