Around 2,500 frontline Qantas and Jetstar employees are being stood down for an estimated two months in response to ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks and their impact on domestic air travel.
The Qantas Group, which owns both airlines, said the stand down was a temporary measure to deal with a significant drop in flying caused by restrictions in Greater Sydney, in particular, and the knock-on border closures in all other states and territories.
However, the company emphasised that no job losses are expected as a result.
The decision will directly impact domestic pilots, cabin crew and airport workers. These jobs are mostly in New South Wales, but also in other states given the nature of airline networks.
Stand downs to take effect from mid-August
Employees will be given two weeks’ notice before the stand down takes effect, with pay continuing until mid-August.
“Income support in the form of government disaster payments will be key to helping eligible employees get through this challenging period and the Qantas Group welcomes the targeted Federal Government support offered for those stood down outside of declared hotspots and to retain domestic aviation capability,” the company said in a statement
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce noted that the difficult decision to trigger stand downs reflected the reality confronting many businesses operating in New South Wales.
“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.
“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,” he said.
Passenger numbers are down by 60 percent
“Qantas and Jetstar have gone from operating almost 100 percent of their usual domestic flying in May to less than 40 percent in July because of lockdowns in three states.
“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 that, based on current case numbers, it was reasonable to assume that Sydney’s borders would be closed for at least another two months.
“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.”