Australian national carrier’s three-year plan to lose staff and save $15 billion
25 June 2020 | Toby Thomas
A significant blow has been dealt to the workforce of Australia’s flagship airline with Qantas chief Alan Joyce announcing six thousand jobs will go as the carrier struggles under the weight of the coronavirus crisis.
The cost savings for the airline from this reduced workforce are expected to total $15 billion over the coming three years and a further $1 billion of ongoing savings from FY23 onwards. In addition to the jobs cull, a further equity raising of $1.9 billion was also announced to the market to bolster Qantas’ liquidity in the short-term.
Aside the the staff losses the airline will immediately retire the remainder of its iconic Boeing 747 fleet. In total the airline has operated 65 jumbo jets since first coming into operation in 1971, at the start of this year there were just six still flying. The airline had planned to retire all of those from service this year.
Joyce, who took home a salary of $23.9 million as the highest-paid Australian chief executive in 2018, stressed that the airline’s need to tighten its belt was due to the long-term implications of COVID-19 on international travel.
The Qantas boss added, “right now all airlines are in the middle of the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced.”
“Adapting to this new reality means some very painful decisions. The job losses we’re announcing today are confronting. So is the fact thousands more of our people on stand down will face a long interruption to their airline careers until this work returns.”
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) which has had a combative relationship with the airline under Joyce’s leadership was quick to react, with National Secretary Michael Kaine saying, “The Qantas CEO is very good at walking the halls of Canberra when it suits his agenda, yet he is quick to cut jobs and hang workers out to dry.”
Joyce said that ‘constructive’ discussions had occurred between himself and both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, but no firm commitment had yet been established for the federal government to provide additional support to the aviation industry.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed his deepest regrets over the job losses saying “JobKeeper or other measures” may be on the table to financially support the aviation and other industries hardest hit by the pandemic.
Qantas says it believes international flights are unlikely to resume until July 2021, but the re-opening of state borders may see a resurgence in domestic aviation within the next few months.
The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, which represents aircraft maintenance personal, will seek legal advice before commenting. It is involved in a number of disputes with the airline include, it says, Qantas’s failure to pay staff members a promised bonus of $2,500 in 2018.