A sign is posted in front of a Hertz car sales and rental office in South San Francisco, California. File / AFP
"The impact of COVID-19 on travel demand was sudden and dramatic, causing an abrupt decline in the Company's revenue and future bookings," Hertz said in a press release.
Hertz said it took "immediate action" to prioritise the health and safety of employees and customers and eliminate "all non-essential spending."
"However, uncertainty remains as to when revenue will return and when the used-car market will fully re-open for sales, which necessitated today's action," it said.
A logo of the Hertz is seen at Bordeaux Airport in Merignac, Southwestern France. Reuters
Its main international operating regions, including Europe, Australia and New Zealand, were not included in the US Chapter 11 filing.
Hertz had already cut 10,000 jobs in North America, or 26.3 per cent of its global workforce, to save money after the coronavirus shutdowns paralysed travel and crippled the economy.
Chapter 11 is a mechanism that allows a company that is no longer able to repay its debt to restructure itself without creditors.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Hertz held debts of roughly $19 billion, in addition to nearly 700,000 vehicles sitting idle because of the coronavirus.
"The financial reorganisation will provide Hertz a path toward a more robust financial structure that best positions the Company for the future as it navigates what could be a prolonged travel and overall global economic recovery," the Hertz statement said.
Hertz' franchise sites, which are not owned by the company, are also not included in the Chapter 11 proceeding.
Established in 1918 with only a dozen cars, the global car rental giant had survived the Great Depression and numerous American recessions.
But in recent years the company has struggled with competition — including Avis Budget and carpooling services such as Uber.
Hertz suffered a fourth consecutive annual net loss in 2019. But 2020 had started well with an increase in turnover of six percent in January and eight percent in February compared to the same months of last year.
The chapter 11 filing follows that of another well-known American business, retailer J. Crew, and illustrates the extent of the damage to the economy from the deadly disease.
More than 38 million people have applied for US unemployment benefits since the shutdown began in March.
Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell recently spoke of a likely 20 to 25 percent unemployment spike, after climbing to 14.7 percent in April.
More than 1.6 million people have been infected with the coronavirus in the US and the pandemic has killed over 96,000 people, according to the Johns Hopkins University.Agence France-Presse
The majority of the world's population remains susceptible to COVID-19 and there is a long road to travel as the risk remains high, the chief of the World health Organization (WHO) said.
Alphabet’s Google published reports for 131 countries showing whether visits to shops, parks and workplaces dropped in March, when many governments issued stay-at-home orders to rein in the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Italy and Spain bore the brunt of the crisis, accounting for three in every four deaths on the continent, as the grim tally hit another milestone even though half of the planet's population is already under some form of lockdown in a battle to halt contagion.
The US economy unexpectedly added jobs in May after suffering record losses in the prior month, offering the clearest signal yet that the downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic was probably over, though the road to recovery could be long.
Canadian plane and train maker Bombardier said on Friday it would cut 2,500 jobs, or about 11% of the workforce at its aviation unit, as the coronavirus pandemic’s crushing impact on the air industry adds to its long list of problems.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unique market pressures and challenges across industrial sectors. In the context of the real estate industry in the UAE, the crisis interrupted a process of steadily building renewed growth.
Germany has become the second major European Union (EU) economy to use a multi-billion-euro recovery plan to spur clean driving, with incentives for electric cars that should boost Volkswagen (VW) and Tesla, while polluting sport utility vehicles (SUVs) face higher taxes.