The announcement that Qantas is to slash costs and jobs is like a brutal dose of cold reality.
Suddenly, the economic storm seems closer. You might have thought we were over the worst but it is clear that we are not.
To find out what it means for aviation, we talked to the world's top experts on the industry.
When will Volodymyr Bilotkach see his family?
Singapore-based Dr Bilotkach, author of The Economics of Airlines, said he hoped to attend a family reunion in Ukraine in December.
"Hoped", the academic at the Singapore Institute of Technology said.
"We might see some stabilisation of long-haul travel in the autumn [which would be spring in Australia] - assuming the virus behaves itself," he said.
His view that the international airline industry may have re-opened to some very limited degree by then is at the more optimistic end of the scale.
But he bases it on the way in which governments are working to put in place arrangements for quarantine and the way some countries are starting to cooperate and allow movement between themselves, those in the European Union, for example.
But quarantine won't be enough
Quarantine arrangements don't get Qantas or Virgin Australia back into full international mode because quarantine arrangements are no good for tourism.
Tourists obviously will not fly and spend 14 days locked up at the other end - so mass travel remains out and airlines need mass travel to be viable financially.
Full travel as it was before the virus struck will need a vaccine, and that, the experts say, is a year or even two away - at least.
But when the industry does recover, it will recover quickly, according to Dr Bilotkach.
After the terrorist attacks in 2001 and the global financial crisis in 2008, airlines around the world laid off staff but very soon after there were more people working in the industry than there had been before the crises.
What about testing?
If there were utterly reliable testing, to be carried out just before passengers boarded flights, that might work - but we are a long way from that.
Dr Bilotkach said that airlines tended to think that testing was for governments to work out.
Companies are relying more on assuring passengers that they will be safe on board an aircraft. Everybody wears masks and the air-circulation system on aircraft is what Dr Bilotkach called "industrial grade".
So runs the airlines' claim.
But will passengers and governments accept that assurance?
On top of that, governments may have other priorities before that of organising testing regimes at airports - priorities like ensuring the safety of health workers rather than international travellers.
The political problems would be as big as an Airbus A380 if a government started testing well-heeled travellers before essential workers in the front-line against the virus.
What about jobs?
The direct effect on employment is clear and brutal.
On top of Qantas' 6000 jobs to go, Virgin Australia with 10,000 employees is fighting bankruptcy.
Reports in the financial press said that bidders for Virgin Australia planned to cut the fleet by about 80 per cent - from 130 aircraft to perhaps 15. Fewer planes mean fewer ground staff.
But it's not just airlines
Fewer flights mean airports become less profitable. Those department stores which passengers are herded through between security and boarding will become less profitable. Less profits means more bankruptcies and more job cuts.
There is also a sizable aviation manufacturing industry in Australia.
"The Australian industry is significant, generating revenues of around A$4 billion. The sector has approximately 830 firms and around 14,000 employees," according to a federal government report.
About a third of those sales are to civil aviation enterprises and a further third is servicing aircraft and airports (the remainder is for defence and for smaller leisure aircraft).
What will aviation look like when it's over?
People in the industry compare it with 9/11 - but say the outlook is worse.
Confidence in flying collapsed after the hijackings and mass murders in 2001 but recovered when security devices were placed at airports. When people realised it was safe to fly, they did.
The result was that the number of passengers who flew worldwide in 2002 was 1.63 billion, only slightly fewer than the 1.66 billion in 2001, according to the World Bank.
But we are nowhere near having the ability to detect viruses in any and every passenger.
The pattern of flying may change, according to Sir Rod Eddington, the Australian who headed British Airways.
Nervous people would want direct flights. "They're going to want to go from city A to city B, nonstop," Sir Rod told the Financial Times.
That would spell doom for the jumbos, whether the Boeing 747 or the double-decker Airbus A380. "They're going to be parked up against the fence."
But at least global warming will be eased?
Sorry but not really.
Emissions from civilian aircraft account for about three per cent of global emissions of global warming gasses, according to Shaun Hendy, professor of physics at the University of Auckland.
"Globally that's not very big," he said, "and it won't solve the problem".
But for individuals who want to get their carbon footprint down, more teleconferencing and holidays nearer home will "balance the budget", as he put it.
"The next few years, we'll be living environmentally more friendly lives," he said.
It may be small recompense for the millions who will find themselves out of work because of the minuscule virus which has so far defeated the world's best scientists.
Without a vaccine, Qantas and the rest of the industry will be grounded.