Jobs under biggest threat as result of virus
As Australians battle to contain the spread of coronavirus, the National Australia Bank (NAB) has named the sectors set to suffer most.
The deadly virus, which has infected more than 119,000 people around the world and 133 people in Australia, is set to have the greatest impact on Aussies who work in the tourism industry, as a result of travel restrictions.
"For Australia, the immediate impact is likely to be on exports, with travel restrictions weighing on the education and tourism sectors," NAB said.
China was Australia's biggest source of international visitors in 2019 - bringing more than 1.4 million people to our shores.
But now that anyone coming from China required to go into quarantine for 14 days, Reserve Bank of Australia deputy governor Guy Debelle is worried that Australia's fall in Chinese tourists will lead to a stop in visitors coming from other countries as well.
"Since January, inbound airline capacity from China has declined by 90 per cent, which gives a guide to the size of the decline in arrivals from China," Mr Debelle told The Australian Financial Review Business Summit in Sydney on Wednesday.
"Up until recently, tourist arrivals from other countries had held up reasonably well but that may no longer be true."
While a weaker Aussie dollar usually brings tourists Down Under, it's unlikely to help the sector this year, as governments put travel restrictions in place and airlines reduce their capacity for the next six months.
Following flight cuts to Japan, Hong Kong and even New Zealand last Friday, Qantas was forced to take further action amid the coronavirus outbreak, announcing on Tuesday that they would reduce capacity of their international network by a quarter, and domestic routes by 5 per cent until September.
"We've seen North America and Europe have a big hit in forward bookings," Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said at a press conference on Tuesday, following the announcement that the airline would alter routes to London and that 10 of their 12 A380 aircraft would be parked.
"We're grounding around 38 aircraft in total. In addition to that, we will be trying to avoid redundancies as best we can.
"We are in this situation, with this schedule, having over 2000 people that are surplus to that schedule, and we will be managing that reduction through asking people to take paid leave and unpaid leave."
Australians working in the education sector - particularly in tertiary education - may also see their industry suffer.
After iron ore and coal, education is Australia's third greatest export, with demand from Chinese international students making up about a third of the $32 billion sector.
Travel restrictions, however, are likely to reduce the numbers of Chinese students, in turn impacting demand for university lecturers whose salaries are largely dependent on revenue from full, fee-paying international students.
University of Sydney Associate Professor Salvatore Babones told the Daily Mail that business, economics, politics and engineering faculties at universities were particularly vulnerable to a downturn in Chinese international students.
"These units offer expensive one-year and 18-month master's programs targeted at Chinese students," he said, adding that some business, economics and international studies master's programs were made up of more than 80 per cent Chinese students.
Professor Babones told the publication that the University of NSW and Sydney's University of Technology had more Chinese students than all 33 of California's public universities.
"Australian universities are more reliant on international students than any other universities in the world," Professor Babones said.
Retail, construction and the economy are among the other job sectors likely to suffer, with NAB saying that the overall impact on Australian business will be driven by both supply and demand-side factors.