Qantas is mulling shifting all its bases to one city, as part of a review into its office space caused by downsizing its workforce.
The business has said that “anything that can move” is “on the table”, including its facilities in Mascot, Collingwood and Brisbane.
Chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson revealed the new Western Sydney Airport is “part of our thinking” and even suggested Qantas is looking for “potential incentives” from states to relocate.
The news comes shortly after the airline announced 2,500 ground handling jobs could be lost in addition to the 6,000 jobs across the business already earmarked for cuts. The news of a potential relocation will likely be a worry for many of the thousands of stood down workers who remain.
The three-month review will focus on non-aviation facilities, including the company’s leased 49,000-square-metre base in Mascot, Sydney, and Jetstar’s leased head office in Collingwood, Melbourne.
However, it’s also flagged that “some aviation facilities”, such as flight simulator centres in Sydney and Melbourne and a heavy maintenance facility in Brisbane, could move, too.
Qantas said it has no intention to offshore facilities and insisted the move is entirely due to the job losses already announced, and to save money on the $40 million annual spend on leased office space.
“As well as simply rightsizing the amount of space we have, there are opportunities to consolidate some facilities and unlock economies of scale,” said Hudson. “For instance, we could co-locate the Qantas and Jetstar head offices in a single place rather than splitting them across Sydney and Melbourne.
“Most of our activities and facilities are anchored to the airports we fly to, but anything that can reasonably move without impacting our operations or customers is on the table as part of this review. We’ll also be making the new Western Sydney Airport part of our thinking, given the opportunity this greenfield project represents.
“This is about setting the Qantas Group up for the long term as well as recovering from the COVID crisis. And we’re open-minded about the outcome. It’s possible that our HQ stays where it is but becomes a lot smaller, and other facilities consolidate elsewhere. Or we could wind up with a single, all-purpose campus that brings together many different parts of the group. These are all options we need to consider as we look to the future.
“The Qantas Group will remain one of the country’s largest employers and a major generator of economic activity, so we’re keen to engage with state governments on any potential incentives as part of our decision making.”
In June, the wider Qantas group announced it would cut 6,000 jobs altogether, or nearly 20 per cent of its workforce, and continue stand-downs for a further 15,000 employees.
Two months later, its full-year financial results revealed a loss before tax of $2.7 billion and an underlying profit before tax of just $124 million.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said the results were “shaped by extraordinary events that have made for the worst trading conditions in our 100-year history”.
“To put it simply, we’re an airline that can’t really fly to many places – at least for now,” he said.
It is also currently proposing to outsource many of its ground handling operations, however, this is subject to accepting rival bids from in-house employees and external companies.
The TWU, however, has concerns over that process and last week began taking Qantas to a Fair Work Commission tribunal where it argued employees haven’t been given enough time to prepare their alternative proposal.