Qantas boss Alan Joyce did Australia a favour on Thursday with his unvarnished announcement the flying kangaroo is about to retrench 6000 staff and will keep another 15,000 stood down indefinitely.
The airline's post-COVID-19 recovery plan, based on the assumption global travel will take three years to recover, and that domestic travel will be severely curtailed for months to come, makes a mockery of any talk of a "snap-back" or a V-shaped recovery.
It also casts further doubt on the wisdom of the government's apparent intention to wind back JobKeeper at the end of September.
Mr Joyce, who said Qantas workers had received $400 million in JobKeeper payments, revealed he had been in talks with the government about keeping the support in place as late as Wednesday.
The company does not know how long it will have to keep 15,000 staff, the vast majority of whom would be relying on the subsidy to stay afloat financially, stood down.
It may be years before many of these, especially those associated with international operations, are able to return to their jobs.
There is no truth to glib assertions that if people are still on JobKeeper by the end of September the likelihood of them returning to work with the same employer is slim and that they would be better off on JobSeeker.
Qantas is a very large canary in what has become an extremely dark coal mine. It is, because of the nature of its operation, uniquely placed to be one of the first companies to encounter many of the problems facing thousands of Australian businesses to come.
Qantas is a very large canary in what has become an extremely dark coal mine.
While few enterprises are exposed to the vagaries of the collapse of international tourism to the same degree as Qantas, the truth is this country does not exist in isolation.
The global downturn that has necessitated this rapid, and unfortunate, restructure by Qantas will impact on every sector of the Australian economy before this is over.
That was the real message to be divined from what Mr Joyce and his board has done. It was also the principal reason why, although the restructure and the retrenchments had been anticipated, the formal announcement took the shine off the ASX which slumped by more than 2.5 per cent to its lowest level in almost a fortnight by the close of trade.
While Australia has, to date, weathered the economic status far better than many countries, and even had its AAA credit rating reaffirmed this week, CEOs and analysts around the country are frantically trying to divine what will be happening six months, a year, and even two to three years from now.
The Great Depression, with which the coronavirus economic crisis has been compared, and the more recent GFC, would suggest it can take many months, and sometimes years, before the full impact of the initial shock is felt.
But enough of the doom and gloom. While Mr Joyce was frank and open about the problems facing Qantas on Thursday, his primary intention was to map out the road ahead.
While conceding "we will need to become a smaller airline" for the time being, he made it clear the company had no intention of hoisting the white flag and intended to use the crisis to come back even stronger than ever.
Instead of relying on the hope of miracle cures, government interventions, or phoenix-like recoveries from the ashes, Qantas has taken hard decisions on the basis of the best information available, and is now proceeding step-by-step, one day at a time.
This an excellent example of facing up to reality that other corporations and, indeed governments, would be well advised to study and to follow.