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‘Sick’ aviation needs federal help ‘right now’, says TWU

written by Adam Thorn | August 20, 2020

VH-OQA rotates from Melbourne Airport Qantas A380
A Qantas A380 departs from Melbourne Airport (Dave Soda)

The TWU has called on the government to engage with the aviation industry “right now” and provide more help after Qantas announced its $2.7 billion statutory loss.

National secretary Michael Kaine said the bad results were “are an indication of just how sick our industry is”.

“It must surely be only a matter of time before Qantas follows Virgin in requesting help from the federal government to stay alive,” said Kaine.

Earlier on Thursday, the Qantas Group blamed a “near-total collapse in travel demand” and “the worst trading conditions in our 100-year history” for the figures from the last financial year.

The TWU used the announcement to urge the federal government to provide more help for the industry, with JobKeeper payments set to be tapered down from October.

“Our airports are also in danger of collapsing and are pleading for assistance on a daily basis,” said Kaine. “The federal government needs to meet aviation businesses, airports and workers right now to work out a plan of action to stop aviation hitting a wall.

“The aviation industry cannot go on limping along like this with an entirely uncertain future. The longer the government delays a plan the greater the chance that jobs and businesses might not be saved. We need a strong aviation industry in place to power our economy when it begins to recover.”


The Australian and International Pilots Association said the second wave of COVID-19 infections was “nothing short of a kick in the guts for pilots”.

AIPA president Mark Sedgwick added, “Things have gone from bad to worse, meanwhile funds committed under the federal government’s aviation support package remain locked up while the industry suffers.”

He said much of the $715 million in sector-wide aviation support, through waived fees and levies, was largely useless if planes weren’t in the sky.


“Unfortunately, there isn’t much a discount on fuel is going to do when we’re not travelling anywhere across the country,” he said. “Regional and intra-state tourism in no way makes up for the reduction in cross-border domestic flights.

“The industry needs urgent assistance to see it through its darkest days, including support for training to keep vital workers such as pilots skilled up and ready to go once travel restrictions are lifted.”

After Qantas published its results, chief executive Alan Joyce hit out at states that are closing their borders to other states with low coronavirus infection numbers.

He also appeared to suggest Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was closing her borders purely for political gain.

“Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania – we’ve got closure there still with very low cases or no cases. And it’s been like that for a while and we don’t have any determination for when the borders will open,” Joyce said.

Comments (11)

  • Ted


    Sucks when the shoe is on the other foot doesn’t it Joyce… Can’t ask the government for specific help, you made sure of that with your previous comments about Virgin’s request(s). Maxed out your credit with the 787’s, mothballed the A380’s and half your fleet (overseas as well I might add). Shareholders don’t support your plans (5% uptake on discounted shares) and sitting there blaming one premier (QLD) when there are four other states also locking out NSW & VIC, who’s playing politics?

    Not looking good for the flying Kangaroo. Real losers here are the additional staff that will lose their jobs on top of the 6,000, with the remaining being flogged and burdened fixing the mess.

  • Wendy Joy


    There must be class action from businesses and families against Qld Premier for closing borders. Families have been wrenched apart for months, businesses have collapsed, the aviation industry is grim. Qantas who has built up such an amazing name in the Aviation Industry is at her mercy. It’s not right.

  • Ben B


    6 months ago Mr Joyce was saying how Virgin Australia should not get any Govt support as his airline was able to survive. Now he is on the same predicament and has sprouted that he needs help. Qantas, like Virgin, is not a Govt. Entity. They sink or swim. I am sure that if Qantas collapse the big overseas airlines like Ethiad, Emirates, Singapore and United will happily pick up the domestic routes. They will take on the local staff. This is reality Mr Joyce.

  • Lucas


    Bit rich if Alan Joyce goes cap in hand to the government after his comments regarding Virgin’s request for a bailout.

  • Limpy


    You do realise the above comments are from the TWU? Joyce commented on the unhelpful knee jerk border closures despite exceptionally low cases in QLD/WA/NT/TAS and SA.

  • Limpy


    You do realise these are comments from the TWU and AIPA? Joyce has only called out the difficulties associated with various state borders closing at the drop of a hat, fair call.

  • JT


    The VIRGIN business was on the nose prior to COVID, QANTAS was healthy – a very different scenario. QANTAS also has every right to go cap in hand on a level playing field with Virgin for any assistance available. The government was correct in taking the approach it had to date but given this set of figures should concede the industry as a whole needs a leg-up, and I’ll think you’ll find they now will considering the original estimate of more open skies was anticipated to occur from now through to Christmas – now looking at Christmas at best into 2021. To address the lack of support to foreign sovereign own companies such as DNATA, maybe the positive outcome here is for these businesses to leave with catering, baggage services etc either coming back under the airlines or become part of the greater airports corporation / employment group. This is easily achievable and reinforce able through government policy stating airport services are to be sovereign entities (Aust owned). This is why airlines and government, banks and superannuation funds could work together to achieve an outcome.
    For all those verbally criticising to the point of bashing Alan Joyce and the government, have a think about it and stop being so narrow minded.

  • Vannus


    To Lucas above…..

    One of the big differences’ between QANTAS & Virgin is, QANTAS is this country’s National Carrier; VA is not, & never has been, irregardless of how they like to ‘promote’ themselves in the past.

    One of the tasks required of the National Carrier, is to be used in time of National Defence, by any arm of the Australian Defence Forces’.

    Also, to be available to complete humanitarian crises’ here, & overseas, eg flying firefigters’ & their equipment, flying medical folk & their supplies’ to sites required eg Bali, Christchurch, Tokyo, Pacific Islands.
    To repatriate Austn citizens’ from Cairo, Wuhan, South America.

    So, if QANTAS needs funds, it’s right in asking for it, to be ready for any of the above, which could occur anywhere, anytime.
    Volcanoes’, earthquakes’, & tsunami don’t respect pandemic ‘rules’.

  • Patrick


    To Ben B & Lucas above…..

    The huge difference between QANTAS & Virgin is that the former is this Country’s National Carrier. The latter, whatever they might wish, is NOT.

    As such, QANTAS has Defence & Humanitarian obligations’. So if its’ CEO & Board wish to approach the Federal Govt for assistance, it can.

    These requirements are many & varied. Cast your mind back to crisis situations’ over the past decade where QANTAS has been front, & centre in helping.
    Bali, Christchurch, Tokyo, Cairo, Wuhan, South America. Evacuation of Australians’ as required.
    Bushfires here. How do you think firefighters’ & their equipment get to where they’re needed rapidly?
    How do you think that medical staff & their supplies got to Bali, Christchurch, Thailand & Tokyo?

    Volcanoes’, earthquakes’, tsunami & flooded caves have no respect for the inhabitants’ of this planet. They occur when they want to.

  • Andy P


    Still laugh every time I hear the TWU talking about solidarity and everyone supporting each other…. They hold the airlines, the public (think tax payers) to random every time an EBA comes up…. And somehow I (think taxpayer) should help out.

  • Craigy


    @Ted, @Ben B, @Lucas talk about verballing Joyce. What Joyce actually said was that all airlines should be treated equally and government should not be picking winners and losers.

    @Ted, the only aircraft mothballed overseas are the A380s. 10 at Victorville and 2 in LA, all serviced and managed by Qantas engineering.

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