The Australian Airports Association (AAA) has said jobs are at risk after Qantas stopped airport rent payments and deferred aeronautical charges due to the coronavirus crisis.
AAA chief executive Simon Bourke told The Australian Financial Review, “It’s sad to hear our biggest airline is using this crisis to look out only for itself.”
The newspaper reports that Qantas has deferred aeronautical payments for February and March, informing airports it will discuss repayment plans when the pandemic eases. It has also supposedly stopped paying rent on leased areas such as staff rooms and lounges from 1 February.
The business does, however, plan to pay aeronautical charges issued from 10 April on time, along with security payments.
Bourke said, “A company that is sharing in $1 billion in government support for airlines must not refuse to meet its basic obligations to others in the industry. Failure to do so puts jobs at risk right across the aviation industry.”
Qantas responded by saying, “We are also asking our suppliers to support us during these unprecedented times. Our suppliers, including airports, have been very understanding of the acute difficulties that all airlines are facing.”
Last month, the Australian flag carrier announced it would stand down two-thirds of its 30,000 workers to save costs.
Two individual airports were also critical of Qantas. Perth Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said, “Everyone in the aviation industry is trying to work together to find a way through this challenge, protect as many jobs as possible and remain viable until we all can reach recovery. There is [a] widespread disappointment that this has not happened.”
While Brisbane Airport chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff added, “Airports don’t have the luxury of being able to ‘hibernate’ their businesses. We need to keep our airfields and terminals operating so that repatriation flights can bring Australians home, emergency flights can land, and freight can continue.
“We appreciate greatly that so many of our business partners, including airlines, recognise that. It’s a shame, not all do.”