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Qantas announces it will sack 6000 workers as coronavirus devastates the travel industry

Sharon Masige
  • Qantas is cutting 6000 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic continues to severely impact the travel industry.
  • The airline will also continue standing down around 15,000 workers.
  • Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the impact of the pandemic will be "felt for a long time".
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Qantas is letting go of thousands of workers as the airline struggles through the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement to the ASX, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the coronavirus pandemic hit the airline "very hard", with the impact to be "felt for a long time".

While the airline entered the crisis "in better shape than most" – with record profits and earnings from its Qantas Loyalty program – it was still affected by the coronavirus. In March, it stood around 20,000 workers and slashed both international and domestic flights.

Joyce outlined the company's three-year plan which covers what the company will be doing in relation to its workforce as well as its restructuring and recapitalising efforts.

There will be 6000 job losses, many of whom have worked at Qantas for decades.

"This is something that weighs heavily on all of us," Joyce said. "But the collapse of billions of dollars in revenue leaves us little choice if we are to save as many jobs as possible, long term."

Around 15,000 people will remain stood down. "Around half of those stood down will be back flying domestically - we think - by the end of the year," Joyce said. "The remainder - mostly, those supporting international flying - will return more slowly.

The airline will be offering voluntary redundancies "as much as possible" as well as letting stood down workers get access to their accrued leave.

While Qantas is receiving JobKeeper, it's also in talks with the government about extending the subsidy or providing some other form of support to those in the airline industry who have been stood down. The airline is also looking forward to seeing state and territories open their borders to get employees back on the job.

The Transport Workers Union calls for 'aviation keeper'

The Transport Workers Union has slammed the job cuts at Qantas, calling for the airline to put the cuts on hold until the federal government makes an announcement on extending JobKeeper.

"Before Qantas slashed thousands of workers’ jobs and takes more of its planes down to the pawn shop it should be lobbying the Federal Government for an extension to Jobkeeper and financial support to allow the airline to weather the crisis," TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

The union is also calling for an additional subsidy to be given to all aviation workers beyond September.

Qantas' future plans

Qantas is planning to return to 40% of its pre-COVID domestic flying during July, with more hopefully after.

In May, Joyce said the airline could be back to at least half its strength by July if states lift coronavirus restrictions.

"We don’t think we’ll go back to 100% honestly in July but we have the capability to easily add 40 to 50% of the capacity that we had before COVID-19 in that month and then a ramp up even further every other month," he said at the time.

International travel, however, will still be a long while yet.

The International Air Transport Association, said it will take more than three years for global travel to go back to 2019 levels, meaning airlines will have to prepare to operate with lower revenue.

For Qantas, it means that over the short term, it will operate as a "smaller airline".

To get back on track, Qantas is conducting its first capital raise in a decade. It aims to use up to $1.9 billion in funds raised to speed up its recovery.

"We will be smaller for a period of time, but we will still deliver a high level of care, and safety, and above all, safety," Joyce said.