Qantas is cutting more staff from its engineering division, with about 400 jobs set to go.
As part of a restructure of its engineering operations flagged in May, the airline is cutting around 200 daily maintenance positions in Sydney due to what it describes as "overstaffing", as well as some employees at Qantas Defence Services who maintain the Air Force's C130 Hercules aircraft.
Qantas will also cut around 250 contractors and "a small number" of employees working on a Boeing 747 project at Melbourne's Avalon airport that finishes later this month.
However, the airline will be filling up to 120 new positions in Brisbane as maintenance is transferred from Melbourne's Tullamarine operation to the Queensland facility, which is receiving a $30 million upgrade.
Qantas says the changes will result in a net reduction of around 150 employees and 250 contractors.
The head of the airline's domestic operations, Lyell Strambi, says a more modern fleet of aircraft requires less maintenance and Qantas needs to cut costs to stay internationally competitive.
"Our cost base in heavy maintenance is more than 30 per cent higher than our competitors who do the vast majority of their maintenance overseas," he said in a statement.
"We must close this gap to secure Qantas's future viability and this restructure will assist in making Qantas maintenance facilities in Australia more competitive." Becoming 'unsafe' Unions have expressed disappointment at the job losses and are warning staff cuts will risk Qantas's reputation as one of the world's safest airlines.
"The engineering job cuts announced by Qantas management today are another step towards turning our national carrier into an unsafe airline," said Steve Purvinas, the federal secretary of the Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association.
"It beggars belief that Qantas management's answer to a recent spate of maintenance errors, many being investigated by CASA, is to sack more staff." Australian Workers Union (AWU) Victorian secretary Cesar Melham says Qantas should assist employees who want to move to Brisbane to take up positions there.
"There has been no consultation and no consideration for the lives that have been turned upside down by today's announcement," he said.
"We understand there are something like 110 positions available in Brisbane heavy maintenance which is small comfort to people whose lives are in Victoria." Qantas says further job losses are likely in its engineering division as improved technology continues to lower maintenance requirements, and as it eventually transitions to just one heavy maintenance base in Australia.
The airline says it has no timeline yet set for the transition to one heavy maintenance base.
Qantas says its main daily maintenance base will continue to operate at Sydney Airport, with large daily maintenance bases in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Cairns and Darwin.