Qantas could sack even more staff if Victoria’s recent coronavirus outbreak puts a pin in interstate travel, experts have warned.
The iconic Australian airline announced on Thursday it will slash 6,000 jobs – 20 per cent of its workforce – as the government’s lockdown of international borders continues to cripple the aviation industry.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce also said the 15,000 workers already stood down will remain out of work ‘for some time’.
The staff cuts come just days after Qantas cancelled all of its international flights other than those between Australia and New Zealand until September due of the pandemic.
But aviation experts predict the worst of the job cuts are still to come if the Victorian Government’s ‘suburban testing blitz’ in Melbourne doesn’t keep new cases down.
Air crew walk through the Qantas Terminal at Sydney Airport on June 19. 15,000 staff members already stood down will remain out of work ‘for some time’
Aviation experts predict the worst of the job cuts are still to come if the Victorian Government’s ‘suburban testing blitz’ in Melbourne (pictured) doesn’t keep new cases at bay
Airline Ratings founder Geoffrey Thomas said staff keeping their jobs is dependent on Victoria stopping the spread of the virus.
‘It’s a very dynamic situation. You’ve still got 15,000 people on furlough,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Thomas said another lifeline for jobs at Qantas will be the trans-Tasman ‘bubble,’ allowing air travel between Australia and New Zealand.
Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman Neil Hansford warned Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk could use Victoria’s rise in cases as an ‘excuse’ not to reopen the borders, axing even more flights.
Mr Joyce on Thursday said the opening of state borders was crucial to the plan, and negotiations with state and territories were ongoing on how to manage public heath risks.
CEO Alan Joyce said widespread overseas travel was unlikely until mid-2021 – with a skeleton schedule operating in the meantime
‘This year was supposed to be one of celebration for Qantas. It’s our centenary. Clearly, it is not turning out as planned,’ Mr Joyce said.
The three-year plan aims to have 21,000 active employees by June 2022. The Qantas Group currently has 29,000 staff.
Mr Joyce added widespread overseas travel was unlikely until mid-2021 – with a skeleton schedule operating in the meantime.
‘We have never experienced anything like this before – no-one has. All airlines are in the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced,’ he said.
‘Revenues have collapsed, entire fleets are grounded and the world biggest carriers are taking extreme action just to survive.
‘IATA –the peak body for airlines – says it will take more than three years for global travel to return to 2019 levels.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged the aviation sector will need ongoing help, with JobKeeper wage subsidies and other coronavirus support measures to end in September.
‘We are just working through the best way to target and deliver that support,’ he said on Thursday, adding that could include JobKeeper or other measures.
Unions have reacted to the job losses and ongoing stand downs with fury.
ACTU president Michele O’Neil said the airline had abandoned its workers to preserve profits, and said the prime minister’s refusal to extend JobKeeper payments to all aviation workers had left thousands without support.
Aviation experts have warned Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk could use Victoria’s rise in cases as an ‘excuse’ not to reopen the borders
The staff cuts come just days after Qantas cancelled all of its international flights other than those between Australia and New Zealand until September because of the pandemic
The Australian Services Union said the cuts were ‘premature’, given Qantas had one of the best balance sheets of any airline in the world.
‘Cutting jobs and capacity now will only hamstring the industry and economy – Qantas is shooting itself in the foot,’ ASU assistant national secretary Linda White said.
The airline’s fleet of 12 Airbus A380s used for long-haul flights will be grounded for three years and moved to storage in California’s Mojave desert.
Last Wednesday, the airline cancelled all of its international flights until October apart from those to New Zealand in anticipation of the opening of a trans-Tasman bubble.
The cancellations came on the same day Trade Minister Simon Birmingham announced the country’s borders will remain closed for another four months.