Qantas Group has temporarily stood down around 2,500 frontline employees across both Jetstar and Qantas carriers as a response to the ongoing lockdowns in NSW and Queensland and the resulting border closures from other states and territories.
Domestic pilots, cabin crew and airport workers in NSW will make up most of the affected staff who have been given two weeks’ notice before the stand down takes effect.
“This is clearly the last thing we want to do, but we’re now faced with an extended period of reduced flying and that means no work for a number of our people,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.
“We’ve absorbed a significant amount of cost since these recent lockdowns started and continued paying our people their full rosters despite thousands of cancelled flights.
“This is extremely challenging for the 2,500 of our people directly impacted, but it’s also very different from this time last year when we had more than 20,000 employees stood down and most of our aircraft in hibernation for months on end.”
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce announced on Monday that airlines will be able to claim $750 a week for half of their pilots and flight attendants if they have seen a 30 per cent downturn since Sydney went into lockdown.
“Hopefully, once other states open back up to South Australia and Victoria in the next week or so, and the current outbreak in Brisbane is brought under control, our domestic flying will come back to around 50 to 60 per cent of normal levels,” Joyce said.
Joyce said it he expects that Sydney’s borders will be closed for at least another two months.
“We know it will take a few weeks once the outbreak is under control before other states open to New South Wales and normal travel can resume,” he said.
“Fortunately, we know that once borders do reopen, travel is at the top of people’s list and flying tends to come back quickly, so we can get our employees back to work.
“The vaccine rollout means the end is in sight and the concept of lockdowns will be a thing of the past. Australia just needs more people rolling up their sleeves as more vaccine arrives.”
But Joyce said the challenge around opening international borders remains.
“There are still several thousand Qantas and Jetstar crew who normally fly internationally and who have been on long periods of stand down since the pandemic began,” he said.
“Higher vaccination rates are also key to being able to fly overseas again, and finally getting all our people back to work.”