About 150 Qantas pilots have taken unpaid leave and some may not be coming back as the airline cuts services in a bid to revive money losing international operations, Bloomberg has reported.
Qantas confirmed the Bloomberg report but declined to elaborate, the news agency reported.
Many of the pilots are going on leave to join Gulf-based carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, Australian & International Pilots Association vice president Richard Woodward told Bloomberg.
“Our young guys are voting with their feet,” Woodward was quoted as saying. “Because of retrenchment and downsizing, they’re going directly to our competitors, which will exacerbate our problems.”
Qantas, which employs some 2000 pilots, announced reductions in overseas services in August. That followed losses of about $200 million a year on international routes.
The pilots union, which remains locked in a long running labour dispute with Qantas, said restructuring plans could see the airline with as many as 500 excess pilots by 2015.