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.