By Jamie Freed
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Airline industry turmoil deepened on Thursday as Qantas Airways Ltd (AX:) told most of its 30,000 employees to take leave and India prepared a rescue package of up to $1.6 billion to aid carriers battered by coronavirus, government sources said.
The U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization called on governments to ensure cargo operations were not disrupted to maintain the availability of critical medications and equipment such as ventilators, masks, and other health and hygiene items that will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Passenger operations have collapsed at an unprecedented rate as the virus spreads around the world, with Delta Air Lines Inc (N:) parking more than 600 jets, cutting corporate pay by as much as 50%, and scaling back its flying by more than 70% until demand begins to recover from the coronavirus epidemic hit.
Shares in U.S. airlines fell sharply on…