‘Insult’: Fury as Qantas sacks thousands
Qantas has confirmed thousands of ground staff will lose their jobs after a cost-cutting decision to outsource the majority of its ground-handling operations.
The embattled airline has revealed 2000 jobs will be axed across 10 Australian airports as part of its operational overhaul to ensure the flying kangaroo can remain in the skies beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
Qantas's decision comes after months of operational reviews that began in August to reduce the size of the business following subdued travel numbers due to the health crisis.
Monday's announcement brings the total job losses at Qantas to about 8500 of its 29,000 pre-pandemic workforce.
The aviation industry has been financially obliterated by COVID-19, with the health crisis causing Qantas to report a $2.7 billion statutory loss for the 2020 financial year.
Qantas chief executive of domestic and international operations Andrew David said the industry had been turned "upside down" and it would take years to recoup the financial damage inflicted by the global shutdown.
"This is another tough day for Qantas, particularly for our ground-handling teams and their families," Mr David said.
"Unfortunately, COVID has turned aviation upside down. Airlines around the world are having to make dramatic decisions in order to survive, and the damage will take years to repair."
The premier airline said impacted staff would be entitled to redundancy packages, and it would help workers find jobs outside of the company.
It is expected the outsourcing of ground-handling operations will reduce costs by $100 million annually and avoid large spending on ground-handling equipment.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Qantas has taken on an additional $1.5 billion in debt in order to keep the business afloat.
"While there has been some good news recently with domestic borders, international travel isn't expected to return to pre-COVID levels until at least 2024," Mr David said.
"We have a massive job ahead of us to repay debt, and we know our competitors are aggressively cutting costs to emerge leaner."
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) had submitted bids on behalf of ground-handling staff for operations to stay with Qantas; however, it was unsuccessful and did not meet the airline's requirements.
Mr David said Qantas had made three separate extensions for the TWU, but the union failed to "outline sufficient practical detail".
"Even with the involvement of a large accounting firm, the bid falls well short of what the specialist external providers were able to come up with," he said.
The TWU said outsourcing specialist ground handlers was unsafe and the bid process was a sham.
It also claimed outsourcing would lower wages and working conditions, and Qantas was rorting the federal government's JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.
Qantas refutes these claims.
Originally published as 'Insult': Fury as Qantas sacks thousands