Qantas to cut at least 6000 jobs and ground 100 aircraft

Australian airline Qantas has announced plans to cut at least 6000 jobs as it battles the severe drop in travel due to COVID-19.

The job losses were revealed as part of the company's three-year recovery strategy, which was announced on Thursday.

The Qantas Group operates flights across the Tasman, and owns Jetstar, which flies domestically in New Zealand.

Asked if any New Zealand-based jobs were at risk, an airline spokesperson said information on the geographical location of the 6000 people whose jobs will be axed is not yet available.

The 'Rightsize, Restructure, Recapatalise' plan will see the airline become much smaller, with far fewer international flights when the tourism industry begins to recover, and will aim to make savings of AU$15 billion over the next three years.

"Adapting to this new reality means some very painful decisions," said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. "The job losses we're announcing today are confronting. So is the fact thousands more of our people on stand down will face a long interruption to their airline careers until this work returns.

"What makes this even harder is that right before this crisis hit, we were actively recruiting pilots, cabin crew and ground staff. We're now facing a sudden reversal of fortune that is no one's fault, but is very hard to accept."

Qantas' recovery plan: 

  • Around 100 aircraft to be grounded for up to 12 months; some for longer
  • Reducing the company's pre-crisis workforce by at least 6000 
  • Continuing the stand-down for 15,000 employees, particularly those associated with international operations, until flying returns
  • Retiring Qantas' six remaining 747s immediately, six months ahead of schedule
  • 100 aircraft grounded for approximately 12 months, including most of the international fleet
  • The company's orders with Airbus and Boeing for new A321neo and 787-9 aircraft have been deferred.

Where will the job losses come from? 

  • Non-operational: At least 1450 job losses, mainly in corporate roles, due to less flying activity
  • Ground operations: Approximately 1500 job losses across airports, baggage handling, fleet presentation and ramp operations
  • Cabin crew: Around 1050 job losses due to early retirement of the 747s and less flying activity. A further 6900 cabin crew will be on stand down from July 2020 onwards
  • Engineering: At least 630 job losses due to 747 retirement, less flying activity (particularly of the wide-body fleet) and redistribution of work from Jetstar's Newcastle base to make better use of existing maintenance capacity in Melbourne
  • Pilots: At least 220 job losses mostly due to early retirement of the 747s. A further 2900 pilots will be on stand down from July 2020 onward

Joyce has also accepted a request from the airline's board that he stay on as CEO throughout the recovery process until at least 2023.