Qantas staff face months-long wait on redundancy picks

written by Adam Thorn | June 25, 2020
Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU at the airline's Los Angeles maintenance facility. (Jordan Chong)
Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU at the airline’s Los Angeles maintenance facility. (Jordan Chong)

Qantas staff face an agonising wait of “a few months” to find out if they will be among 6,000 to be made redundant, Australian Aviation can reveal.

Chief executive Alan Joyce said that the delay was due to prioritising voluntary redundancies over compulsory ones.

He also defended taking the decision to cut almost 20 per cent of his workforce before the government has decided whether or not to extend its JobKeeper scheme, saying it was done to give staff “certainty”.


Just half an hour earlier, the business unveiled its dramatic post-pandemic recovery plan, which also involved continuing to stand down 15,000 people and grounding 100 aircraft for 12 months.

On the subject of job losses, Joyce said he would only begin picking people to be made redundant after a voluntary scheme had been “exhausted” but admitted the process would take months, given the scale of the changes.

“The restructuring of the business will cost a billion,” Joyce said. “We could have delayed doing that but we didn’t think that was in the interest in our people. Giving them certainty was key.”

Of those job losses, 1,450 will be non-operational and mainly corporate; 1,500 from ground operations; 1,050 in cabin crew (with a further 6,900 on stand down); 630 in engineering; and 220 among pilots.


The business then hopes to return staffing levels to 21,000 active people by June 2022, though much of that will depend on international border restrictions easing.

Joyce added that he’s formally asked Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to extend the JobKeeper scheme for aviation, which has given his airline $400 million to pass onto its employees.

The JobKeeper package was introduced to provide coronavirus-effected business with $1,500 per employee, per fortnight.

The companies are then legally obliged to pass that payment onto workers in a bid to keep the economy active during the pandemic.

However, the JobKeeper payments are substantially higher than the default ‘JobSeeker’ payments given to those completely out of work, leading to many questioning why Qantas made the decision ‘early’.

Joyce, however, rebuffed those concerns by adding that the job losses were going to “jobs we don’t see coming back for a very long time”.

Previously, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised the scheme will be reviewed at the end of June, and also hinted it could be extended to more vulnerable industries.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine called on Qantas to pause its redundancies until there was certainty over the JobKeeper situation.

“The Qantas CEO is very good at walking the halls of Canberra when it suits his agenda, yet he is quick to cut jobs and hang workers out to dry,” Kaine said.

Qantas’ proposals to substantially shrink the business will rank among the most dramatic in the airline’s 100-year history.

As part of the measures announced, Qantas said:

  • A total of 6,000 of 29,000 staff would be made redundant;
  • Joyce will continue in his role until at least the end of FY2023
  • The group’s six remaining 747s will be retired immediately, six months ahead of schedule;
  • It would defer deliveries of A321neo and 787-9;
  • It planned to generate up to $1.9 billion from equity raising; and
  • There is “significant uncertainty” as to when flying levels will support the return of the A380.

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  • Jet


    The Govt has no plan for international borders – they can’t stay closed forever. A vacinne will help but it may never happen. Not only is aviation suffering while no decision is made, but everything associated with tourism.

    Morrison needs a plan – the rest of the world is opening up.

  • Adrian P


    Might be a game of poker with the government, extend job-keeper or pay job-seeker.
    Has any body considered using the 747s for live exports, there by reducing the journey from 12 days by sea to 12 hours by air.

    • John


      You try explaining how to use the drop down masks to sheep.

  • Red Cee


    Australia can’t afford to have subsequent waves of Covid. We can’t afford to open most international borders at this time. The long term effects of this disease are still unknown, but what we do know, is the long term effects that we do know about, don’t look good.

  • Jennifer


    Absolutely correct. I suspect our govt realises it has just this one chance to take even more control over our lives and money.
    Remember that at the polling booth.

  • A380 wife


    Still think Joyce is doing the right thing, particularly for us…..The last thing my husband wants is to “age out” of flying the 380 if it is, as all of us suspect, is out of commission for 2-3 years or, more likely, for good. “Certainty” in times of unprecedented, universal UNcertainty, with no experts anywhere in sight, is a pretty valuable commodity to pilots and their families.

  • Stu Bee


    I know this is off topic but does anyone know when the last B744 VH-OEJ will be leaving?

    • Edward


      Hello Stu Bee….I believe 30/6/2020, next Tuesday.
      Sad to see such a beautiful aircraft, in many ways, no longer ‘of use’.

  • Mike


    STU BEE, you’re not alone.
    Staff who serviced, operated onboard and travelled the world in the B747 of the various series which Qantas has flown, asked the same question of management recently. There was an acknowledgement of the fact the type has been in service for very close to half the one hundred years of the airline’s operation.
    Although Qantas is actively reigning in unnecessary expenditure, the final operational B747 will not depart as quietly as all the preceding members of the fleet, so expect some small fanfare.
    I’m very grateful Qantas has donated not one, but TWO, B747 aircraft to Australian museums; B747-238B, VH-EBQ at Longreach, QLD and B747-438, VH-OJA in Albion Park, NSW.
    As Qantas celebrates its centenary year, albeit very much in the grips of the global pandemic, the role of the B747 in attaining that longevity is not forgotten.

  • Gazza T


    OH John sleep love to follow along, a simple cartoon would do the trick, look at Trump they love to follow along..

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