The Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, has defended the government help offered to Virgin Australia on the day it announced 3,000 job losses.
In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Deputy PM McCormack outlined the various initiatives that were put in place but insisted the “market-led solution” would ensure the airline emerges in the “best position possible”.
The comments followed news hours earlier that Virgin Australia was planning to cut 3,000 jobs and axe the Tigerair brand.
“I am saddened to hear of today’s job losses announced by Virgin Australia and our first thoughts are with all Virgin employees, as well as their families and those businesses relying on them for their livelihoods,” said Deputy PM McCormack.
“We are living through a one-in-100-year event – the biggest challenge the aviation industry has ever faced.
“The Australian government has and will continue to support the industry through our various initiatives, which to date have seen more than $1.3 billion committed to maintaining operations across the sector and supporting jobs.
“This investment comes on top of the recently extended JobKeeper package, which continues to be available to Virgin employees at this time.
“We understand airlines have needed to make structural adjustments to ensure they can survive and ultimately thrive in the long term.”
The response came hours after a number of unions, including the TWU, spared Bain criticism but attacked the government for not doing more to help aviation.
“We urge the federal government to adopt a strategic plan for the sector so that the two-airline model can endure and that the companies which service them can stay in business,” said national secretary Michael Kaine. “The Victorian lockdown means aviation in Australia will remain on its knees well into next year.
“Other governments around the world are intervening in their aviation industries to help them plan for their futures. The federal government is failing the Australian aviation sector.”
Australian Aviation earlier reported that the bulk of the 3,000 likely job losses will come from those working in operation functions and corporate roles.
The airline also confirmed that consultation with unions will start today, and that voluntary redundancy and redeployment will be explored to try to retain as many jobs as possible.
“Our intention is to secure approximately 6,000 jobs when the market recovers with aspirations for up to 8,000 in the future,” said chief executive Paul Scurrah on Wednesday. “To those that leave the business, I want to thank them for the role they’ve played in making this a great airline.”