Qantas also plans to launch a premium airline based in Asia and a new Jetstar Japan budget airline.
Australian Services Union (ASU) Assistant National Secretary Linda White said, “This announcement flies in the face of all that makes Qantas great, that is its staff,”
The ASU believes a “significant number” of its members will be affected, including those who work in “safety-sensitive areas” of the airline’s operation. The union also covers airport check-in workers and freight workers.
Union may take legal action over plans by Qantas to expand operations in Asia.
Ms White said their members would not be “flat footed” about the announcement.
“We intend to fight this … ASU members strongly believe that what makes Qantas great is it is the spirit of Australia,” she said in a statement.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce today unveiled a five-year plan that aims to boost the airline’s profits and combat the company’s cost base, which he says is about 20 per cent higher than that of key competitors.
As part of the plan, there will be network changes to flights, older aircraft will be retired and about 1000 jobs may be lost, Mr Joyce said.
“The areas affected include management positions, pilots, cabin crew and engineering,” Mr Joyce said in a speech.
He said most of the jobs lost would be voluntary redundancies, with some pilots to be offered leave without pay to take up other opportunities.
Australian and International Pilots Association spokesman Nathan Safe (A great name for a pilot) predicted that 100 to 200 pilots stood to lose their jobs as safety excellence was “flushed down the toilet”.
“It’s probably the thin end of the wedge in an ideological battle to shift the labour force to Asia over time,” he told reporters near Sydney airport.
Mr Safe, a Qantas pilot, expressed his love for Mr Joyce saying “Qantas employees learning that they’re going to lose their jobs, live from a five-star hotel press conference from a CEO that is out of his depth and out of touch with employees, his company and his country.”
The aircraft engineers union will consider taking legal action against Qantas’s plans to launch the two new airlines in Asia and Japan.
Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association Secretary Steve Purvinas said the airline’s move could effectively breach the Qantas Sale Act, which called for the airline to keep the majority of its facilities in Australia when it was privatised.
“The move to open up a new premium airline in Asia is clearly a step by the airline to avoid its obligations under the Qantas Sale Act,” Mr Purvinas said.
The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) said pilots had been warning about the move to expand into Asia for months.
“Strip away the spin … and what’s left is exactly what Qantas pilots have been warning of for months: a shift of Australian Qantas operations into Asia to start employing people working to Asian conditions and standards,” AIPA president Captain Barry Jackson said in a statement today.
Lobby group the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) welcomed the restructure, and in particular the launch of Jetstar Japan and a premium Asian airline, saying it would boost international visitor numbers to Australia.
“Some interest groups are saying that the sky might fall in – TTF says quite the opposite,” TTF chief executive John Lee told reporters in Sydney.
“Australia is the world’s biggest island and we need aviation to work and grow so we can actually have tourism prospering in this country.” Back the bus up John. Australia is a continent and Greenland is the worlds largest Island. Just as well you are not involved in tourism.
John wasn’t finished though, saying, “For tourism to grow you actually need more international tourists coming to Australia via aeroplanes, and today’s announcement will provide new opportunities.”
How else were they going to ge there John? On boats from Indonesia?