Qantas has announced further maintenance staff job losses as its Avalon base, a reduction in line maintenance positions at Sydney, and cuts at Qantas Defence Services with the loss of RAAF C-130H maintenance work, although 120 positions are also being created in Brisbane.
With the winding up of a program to refurbish nine 747-400s with new A380-style interiors this month, Qantas says it is “releasing” 250 Forstaff contractors, plus “a small number” of Qantas staff who work at its Avalon heavy maintenance base, while the 200 line maintenance positions at Sydney will go due to “overstaffing”. Meanwhile, 45 Qantas Defence Services employees will be retrenched as maintenance on the RAAF’s C-130H Hercules fleet winds up with the C-130H being retired from service later this month.
The creation of the 120 new positions at Brisbane follows the May announcement that the airline was shutting its Melbourne Tullamarine maintenance base and moving 737 maintenance to Brisbane. Qantas says these 120 new jobs are in addition to the 100 positions created at Brisbane since May, plus the current recruitment of 30 apprentices.
In all the airline says the changes mean net job losses of 400 positions.
For now at least, Qantas will continue to maintain its 747 fleet at Avalon. “Avalon will continue to maintain Qantas’s fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft. Ultimately, Qantas will consolidate to one Australian heavy maintenance base though no timeline has been set,” the airline said in a statement.
A spokesman subsequently explained to AA that: “Brisbane is the obvious candidate to become our one heavy maintenance site, given the purpose built hangars and modern equipment.”
The airline will also consolidate engineering training facilities from Melbourne to Sydney.
“Our cost base in heavy maintenance is more than 30 per cent per cent higher than our competitors, who do the vast majority of their maintenance overseas. We must close this gap to secure Qantas’s future viability and this restructure will assist in making Qantas maintenance facilities in Australia more competitive,” Qantas Domestic chief executive Officer Lyell Strambi said.
“Qantas will continue to make further changes to our engineering division as newer technology and improved processes enable us to become more efficient.”
The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) took another view: “In our view, the current levels of understaffing are becoming dangerous and Qantas management are disregarding basic laws of aviation safety,” ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas said in a statement. “This needs to stop or Qantas risks becoming an unsafe operator.”
Qantas says it rejects “outright” the ALAEA claims.
“Qantas remains the only airline to have its own heavy aircraft maintenance facilities in Australia and employs around 5,000 people in its engineering division,” the airline said.
Qantas says “where possible” it will offer existing employees relocation assistance to Brisbane or redeployment elsewhere in the airline.