Robert Krikori is familiar with the gut-wrenching pain Virgin Australia workers are likely to be feeling as the airline enters voluntary administration.
He was an inventory analyst at Ansett Australia when it collapsed in September 2001.
"I was married. I had four kids. I was lost. I hadn't a clue what to do," he told AAP on Tuesday.
He didn't see the last of his entitlements paid out until 10 years after Ansett folded.
He and some of his colleagues went to Qantas or Virgin Blue (then a smaller version of Virgin Australia) but others were left unemployed.
"This was supposed to be a job for life," Mr Krikori said.
Now with his own gardening business in Melbourne, he says the government needs to ensure Australia has two airlines once the coronavirus crisis is over.
His comments have been echoed by Labor and the unions who warned on Tuesday Australia didn't want a repeat of Ansett's demise.
Swinburne University's Stephen Fankhauser says there is strong domestic demand to sustain two airlines
"The difference in this situation is that it's more than likely that Virgin will continue," Mr Fankhauser said.
"It's not that the airline just completely ran out of steam, which is what happened with Ansett."
Mr Fankhauser, the deputy chair of Swinburne's aviation department, said there were other factors at play when Ansett went under, including the airline being grounded over safety requirements and owners Air New Zealand cutting costs.
The economic shock faced by Virgin Australia from the coronavirus is far greater than what Ansett faced when the September 11 attacks caused a global chill in air travel, Mr Fankhauser said.
Virgin Australia boss Paul Scurrah said the airline certainly was not collapsing.
"We'll come back leaner, stronger and fitter," he said in Sydney on Tuesday.
Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine said the collapse of Ansett was "diabolical", causing enormous dislocation for workers, with some even suiciding from the stress of unemployment.
The government had a chance to buy a stake in Virgin Australia now to protect the 16,000 jobs on the line, Mr Kaine told AAP.
"The clear thing here is that we do not want another Ansett," he said.
Labor senator and former transport union head Tony Sheldon said Ansett's collapse was devastating and cost lives.
"The consequence of that was a 20-year long hiatus before Virgin came into the aviation industry," he said in Sydney.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg waved off concerns that history was repeating.
"This is not liquidation. This is not Ansett. This is not the end of the airline," he said on Tuesday.
Australian Associated Press