Qantas has put itself on life support, axing a fifth of its workforce and grounding most of its international fleet to survive the coronavirus crisis.
The national carrier will immediately shed 6000 jobs as part of a drastic three-year plan to slash costs by $15 billion.
Almost 15,000 other staff will remain stood down without pay or on enforced leave.
It's hoped about half of them will be back at work by the end of the year.
But the other half - mostly attached to international operations - have no clue when they might get a regular income again.
Qantas is pushing the federal government to extend its Job Keeper scheme, or something like it, to the airline.
A grim-faced Alan Joyce outlined the survival plan on Thursday.
The Qantas chief does not expect the airline to resume international services in any significant way until July next year at the earliest.
The International Air Transport Association believes a full recovery of global air travel will take three years without a second wave of coronavirus.
"The collapse of billions of dollars in revenue leaves us little choice if we are to save as many jobs as possible, long term," Mr Joyce told reporters.
"We have to position ourselves for several years where revenues will be much lower. And that means becoming a smaller airline in the short term."
Mr Joyce said vital signs were strengthening for domestic operations and the airline has "extremely bright prospects for recovery".
But to get there, the carrier will have to raise $1.9 billion through a share sale to balance its books.
Other drastic action includes grounding at least 100 aircraft for up to 12 months, including most of the international fleet.
Staff attached to the airline's 12 A380s face the longest wait, with the super-jumbos to be grounded for at least three years and stored in the Mojave Desert in California.
Mr Joyce promised generous redundancy payouts, worth $600 million, to the 6000 who'll lose their jobs - a mix of pilots, cabin crew, engineers, ground workers and corporate staff.
Voluntary redundancies will be offered before people are tapped to leave.
"They are jobs that we don't see coming back for a long time," Mr Joyce said.
He said he would continue not taking a salary, while executive staff will take a 15 per cent pay cut.
For now, Qantas is focusing on green shoots, domestically.
"We're planning to be back to 40 per cent of our pre-crisis domestic flying during July and hopefully more in the months that follow," Mr Joyce said.
He said the opening of state borders was crucial to the plan, and negotiations with state and territories were ongoing on how to manage public heath risks.
"This year was supposed to be one of celebration for Qantas. It's our centenary. Clearly, it is not turning out as planned," Mr Joyce said.
The three-year plan aims to have 21,000 active employees by June 2022. The Qantas Group currently has 29,000 staff.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged the aviation sector will need ongoing help, with JobKeeper wage subsidies and other coronavirus support measures to end in September.
"We are just working through the best way to target and deliver that support," he said on Thursday, adding that could include JobKeeper or other measures.
Unions have reacted to the job losses and ongoing stand downs with fury.
ACTU president Michele O'Neil said the airline had abandoned its workers to preserve profits, and said the prime minister's refusal to extend JobKeeper payments to all aviation workers had left thousands without support.
The Australian Services Union said the cuts were "premature", given Qantas had one of the best balance sheets of any airline in the world.
"Cutting jobs and capacity now will only hamstring the industry and economy - Qantas is shooting itself in the foot," ASU assistant national secretary Linda White said.