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85% of Qantas pilots haven’t found second jobs

written by Adam Thorn | August 31, 2020

A supplied image of Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNJ in special centenary livery. (Qantas)
A Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNJ in special centenary livery. (Qantas)

Just 15 per cent of stood-down Qantas pilots have managed to secure work elsewhere since the start of the pandemic, according to the head of the pilots association.

Speaking to the Australian Aviation podcast, Mark Sedgwick said, “The industry is hurting really badly. To be an airline pilot in Australia now means to be stood down because there’s no useful work for you.”

The revelation comes after Qantas announced in late June it was to continue stand-downs for 15,000 staff and make 6,000 more redundant, including 220 pilots. Just last week, the airline added it could potentially axe a further 2,500 roles, mostly from outsourcing ground handling.

Sedgwick, the executive director of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), said that while 85 per cent of pilots surveyed hadn’t found work elsewhere, he was hopeful that number has improved since he last questioned members in June.

“We’re about to review that again and get some updated data,” Sedgwick told hosts Phil Tarrant and Christian “Boo” Boucousis. “It’s encouraging but most pilots are stood down, drawing on leave or taking JobKeeper. Most have not found secondary employment. That’s tough in itself, the longer it goes on, the more likely it is they’ll have to find other roles in the economy.

“At a time when unemployment moving to double digits. Getting their skills recognised by other industries is really important. Just 10 per cent of our international pilot at any given time is stood up to work and that’s about as good as it’s ever been.”

In the episode, which you can listen to above or on your device by clicking at the bottom of this page, Sedgwick was also supportive of chief executive Alan Joyce’s views on state border closures.


Earlier this month, Australian Aviation reported how Joyce accused Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of closing her borders purely for political gain.

“The more you shut borders, the more people become complacent and don’t socially distance, don’t wash hands, don’t stay home on their own, and when it gets into the community it runs away,” Sedgwick said. “We need a national approach.”

Also on the Australian Aviation podcast, Sedgwick revealed why he has worked hard to build a good relationship with the Qantas Group and what advice he would give to governments trying to protect the profession for the next generation.


Comments (4)

  • John Smith


    I’d love to know if AIPA even asked the 85% without jobs if they had even attempted to apply for another job. Many I would imagine have just pocketed job keeper (which is fine), but that statistic of Job employment vs Job application is more realistic.

  • Tony


    @John Smith I am a Qantas pilot and I can assure you that pretty much every pilot I know has made multiple attempts to find employment but are constantly knocked back from jobs ike Dan Murphy’s, Woolies, BCF etc. Job keeper doesn’t even make a dent in some peoples finacial commitments and believe me most of us are stressed of our nut over keeping our heads above water with little to no income.

  • Ron Lambert


    Lock up then lock down. Crazy times. The sooner these jokers in Govt / Health get it together and allow testing for interstate travellers within 48 hours of travel – if test negative then you are right to travel. No brainer.

    Looks like Andrews is going to drag the chain as long as possible. Scomo not much better.

  • Michael S


    A certain overseas airline flying into Sydney is getting their crews COVID tested prior to boarding aircraft for their trip and results back within 90 minutes. Since the airlines can do this (yes it costs money) for crew members why cant it be scaled up for passengers (added cost of course) and the appropriate equipment installed at airports. Would do wonders for both passengers numbers and go a long way to at least give Govt a way to start opening borders slowly to make sure its all working and then go from there.

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