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.