Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has pledged to maintain a handful of international flights beyond Qantas’ March grounding to return stranded Australians home.
Speaking to ABC’s Leigh Sales, Joyce said, “We’re just going through those details with the government at the moment. There could be some international operations that will go past the end of March.”
The news comes after Australia banned all non-residents from arriving in Australia and many airlines are beginning to ground the vast majority of their fleet.
On Thursday morning, the Qantas Group announced it was to suspend two-thirds of its workforce and scrap all international flights from the end of March.
Joyce appeared on ABC’s 7.30 show to explain the reasoning behind that decision.
He said, “This is the worst crisis the aviation industry has gone through. I know for the economy it’s probably going to be a lot worse than the GFC.
“With the government saying Australians shouldn’t travel overseas and demand coming in dried up because people don’t want to go into quarantine for 14 days.”
As part of Thursday’s announcement, Qantas Group said “stood down” employees would be able to drawdown annual and long-service leave or have four weeks leave in advance of accruing it as part of measures to ease the burden on staff.
Joyce told Sales, “We’re not making people redundant and we’re trying this mechanism to make sure we can get through and survive and they have a job at the end of the day.
“At the end of the day, we’re protecting these jobs. Some people have months of leave so will be paid for months.
“Some people have very little leave and what we are allowing people also to do is take up net four weeks of negative leave. We will pay for that and that gives them the next four weeks.”
He also said he had spoken to Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci about redeploying Qantas workers in under-pressure supermarkets.
“He [Banducci] thinks Qantas employees are ideal employees to have in loading shelves,” Joyce said.
He also reiterated that no board members will be paid until the end of the financial year, a decision that initially only applied to the chief executive and chairman.
“None of us are getting paid while this is going on,” said Joyce.