Union officials are seeking an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison as deeper coronavirus-related flight cuts threaten thousands of aviation jobs.
The Transport Workers Union renewed its plea for an audience with Mr Morrison on Tuesday after Sunday's request went unanswered.
It came as Qantas and Jetstar announced international and domestic flights would be slashed by 90 per cent and 60 per cent respectively in coming months as passengers bunker down amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national carrier says it's attempting to mitigate the impact on its 30,000-strong workforce, including through the use of paid and unpaid leave.
But the union is adamant pilots, crew members, baggage handlers, caterers, security and cleaners shouldn't be forced to go without an income while riding out the crisis.
"To the extent that work is not available, workers need to be supported," TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in Sydney.
"The government needs to step up and assure workers straight away that they will provide maintenance pay for these workers until the virus passes."
Mr Kaine said they have been working closely with "rattled" airlines to ensure the coronavirus disruption isn't invoked as a "pretext" to slash jobs.
"We need to make sure that the aviation infrastructure (and) aviation workers are ready to rock and roll when this pandemic passes," he said.
"Common sense tells us that when it passes, this critical part of the Australian economy must be ready to go again.
"And you don't do that by putting jobs in jeopardy."
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is keen to avoid a repeat of Ansett's sudden collapse in 2001, calling on the federal government to forgo usual air services and departure fees to ease the burden on carriers.
"It's time for the government to put back," Mr Albanese told reporters in Bega, NSW.
"It would be eminently reasonable if the government waived some of those taxation measures, fuel excise as well is another thing the airlines have been looking at.
"Their ask is modest compared with the challenge that we're seeing."