The global travel shutdown has idled airline staff worldwide, with tens of thousands of people asked to take leave or made redundant.
This extremely well trained human capital could be frozen out of the world economy for months.
At the same time, health systems worldwide are braced for an onslaught of sick people infected with coronavirus and need additional resources to cope. Surely there is a way to solve both problems at once.
Right now the market is signalling that leisure capital — and all the underlying resources and infrastructure it represents — is no longer required.
But rather than idling or destroying those resources permanently via bankruptcy or lay-offs, let's redeploy them.
Airlines already employ a small army of crisis-trained professionals in the form of cabin crew. Globally the numbers run into the millions.
In the UK, the sector directly employs more than 90,000 people. Cabin crew members, because of the physical nature of their jobs, tend to be relatively young and healthy.
They're also used to working in tough conditions and all through the night.
Most importantly they're already trained to a very high first-aid standard and used to following emergency protocols. Indeed, if any sector knows how to manage, reassure and prioritise among large, unruly crowds it is cabin crew.
No one should of course be forced to put themselves in danger. It is of the utmost importance that any redeployment is voluntary and determined by health.
But, if and when such employees agree to work under emergency terms, they could be quickly retrained in airline training facilities, such as the ones that Virgin Atlantic boasts in Crawley.
Their new skills could be applied to administering tests, managing the flow of people and, most importantly, when the time comes, towards servicing the sick with food and drink.
Airline hangars, meanwhile, could potentially house temporary hospital structures positioned close to vital supply and logistic networks.
The sector has already approached governments for bailout funds. But we should be creative about the way we structure them.
With a little initiative and ingenuity, digital securities could be originated very quickly to raise capital from investors for the purpose of funding the redeployment of these suddenly freed-up resources to where the government says they are needed most.
Investors offering up capital could benefit from government guarantees on the condition that the proceeds really are expressly used for funding responses to Covid-19.
Alternatively they could be rewarded by the promise of extraordinary special dividends, once the virus is dealt with and revenues recover.
Some might say investing in government bonds might achieve the same end. But having the government buy, rent or requisition private sector assets risks spooking markets only further.
It also risks putting off private sector innovation in the field. If cleverly and speedily structured, such securities could do their bit in convincing markets that the collapse is only temporary, thus helping to calm market panic.
And there is no need to stop with airlines. Capital transference can occur all across the economy. Cruise ships could be repurposed into floating hospitals for the mildly affected.
Restaurants could be repurposed for the provision of meals on wheels services for the sick and quarantined. Uber drivers could be turned into ambulance drivers.
China deployed authoritarianism to meet the crisis head-on. Westerners marvelled as they built hospitals in record time, while simultaneously failing to understand the scale of the crisis that was about to hit them.
Now we must find a way to achieve an equally powerful outcome through more liberal methods. Necessity is the mother of invention. Let's rise to the challenge by finally putting financial engineering to good use.
Written by: Izabella Kaminska
© Financial Times