Qantas says it will close its call centres in Brisbane and Melbourne in a bid to cut costs, with up to 450 people set to lose their jobs.
The airline says it will consolidate its call centre operations in Hobart and offer all affected employees the option of relocating to the Tasmanian capital.
There are about 250 full time equivalent employees at Qantas’s Melbourne call centre, which will close by mid-2015.
Meanwhile, the Brisbane call centre, which has about 250 full time equivalent staff, will shut by 2016, Qantas said on Wednesday.
Qantas domestic chief executive Lyell Strambi said operating three call centres in different states was inefficient.
Moreover, Qantas customers were increasingly in contact with the airline via online, mobile and social media.
“We are proud that we answer calls from Australia, in Australia, but it is not efficient to have three sub-scale facilities,” Strambi said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Since 2005, call volume has halved and we now see 30 times more visits from customers to qantas.com than we receive in our call centres.
“This is a long-term change in customer behaviour that we expect to continue.”
Strambi said those working in Brisbane and Melbourne who would like to move to the Hobart call centre, which opened in 2000, would be offered relocation costs.
Those who choose not to move to Hobart would be offered redundancy packages in excess of regulatory requirements, Qantas said.
The cuts are part of the projected 5,000 job losses and $2 billion in cost savings between now and 2017 chief executive Alan Joyce announced in February this year.
Qantas posted a $235 million loss for the six months to December 31 2013 and was expected to report a substantial loss for the full 2013/14 financial year.
“These are decisions we make in full knowledge of the impact on our people, but also the need to protect thousands of Australian jobs across the Qantas Group by taking action to strengthen our company,” Strambi said.
Qantas said its New Zealand call centre, which mostly took calls from English speaking customers from outside of Australia, as well as its non-English call centres in places such as Japan and South Africa, were unaffected.