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Qantas may shift key offices out of Sydney or Melbourne

written by Adam Thorn | September 15, 2020
Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJS landing at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)
Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJS landing at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

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.

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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.

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“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.

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18 Comments

  • Max

    says:

    Joyce again l looking for government handouts. “Qantas is looking for “potential incentives””

  • Steve A

    says:

    Interesting to hear you say, Vanessa, that anything that is not bolted down is up for review and potential outsourcing. Well, one big saving that could be made is to outsource the QF CEO’s job.
    With the below-par performance of the current CEO, that is, zero profit for QF during his entire 12-year tenure if you add the losses and profits together, then QF could go to any Australian high school and pluck any year-12 economics student out of class and make them CEO for a fraction of the cost of of AJ, and receive a performance increase at the same time.

  • cj

    says:

    another good way to get rid of excess staff without paying redundancy payments.

    Oh by the way, from next week, you’ll be working at XYZ. it’s only (insert number) kms away.

  • Craigy

    says:

    A major Qantas/Jetstar precinct that includes head office, aircrew training and a major engineering facility makes a lot of sense for Western Sydney. It should generate significant savings from the economies of scale.

  • Mark

    says:

    Could move back to Winton !

  • Teiemka

    says:

    Pretty simple Qantas putting the feelers out for more corporate welfare, and what will our political leadership do……get into a ridiculous bidding war between states. In the end it’s only taxpayers money, in most these cases the “incentives “ given away far outweigh any benefits. These deals are also beyond public scrutiny often invoking confidentiality clauses to keep them welll out of the light.

  • Rodney Marikovic

    says:

    Most important are, Qantas will surveying all bad circumstances. Raise from arches, and begining renewed
    to the second centaury. Let hope to be Western Sydney Airport new Home to resurrected Qantas. Qantas of the future. As one of thausent employees (retired ), know that QANTAS will be leading new world of comercial aviation. Proud and happy Centennial. And future life!
    Let belive in endless Qantas.
    Rodney Marinkovic and Aviation Enthusiast Associate Group.
    🇦🇺✈♥️🛫
    Belgrade & Sydney.

  • Hammer

    says:

    It is the Sydney airline, nothing outside of there exists so I imagine all of it will move to Sydney.

  • john

    says:

    Yep, good thinking 99. My money is on the top 3. Sydney, Sydney, Sydney. As for the TWU, Come into the modern world people, please.

  • Tony Griggs

    says:

    The way Melbourne is conducting business ( Dan Andrews seems to have forgotten business drives a healthy population), I won’t be the least bit surprised to see Qantas move everything to Western Sydney to new offices & facilities. Makes good sense. Victoria is very likely to be the BIG loser here.

  • Don Scott

    says:

    If the new West Sydney Airport becomes real, and a good timeline could be established, it kind of makes sense to concentrate the airline’s activities there. My lifetime associated with the industry, has shown me that airlines are very much people and are an airlines principal assets. It will be critical to the airlines ongoing prosperity that it does not lose its best and key people.

  • Vannus

    says:

    To Hammer above…..

    QANTAS was founded in QLD at Winton, in 1920.

    SYD was made Head Office because of facilities available at Mascot, where the Company has built up over the decades’, a huge Jet Base.

    Western SYD could be a goer, but so too, Wellcamp outside TWB, in SE Qld.
    Its’ runway is long enough for large aircraft. A CX 747 freighter currently comes into it weekly.

    The next 12 months should be interesting.

  • John

    says:

    The national airline has to be based in the biggest and most important city in Australia. Sydney is Australia’s economic and political engine. The only decision is either Mascot or Western Sydney.

  • marcus

    says:

    How about Covid repatriation flights so those stranded overseas don’t have to be bumped repeatedly and have reasonable cost incurred to return to our land girt by sea?

  • Voltron

    says:

    This very public announcement is just Qantas seeking leverage for better leasing rates & T&C’s from current landlords. Can you see senior Qantas management moving from their plush Sydney campus?
    I can’t.

  • David Francis

    says:

    Anything to save a dollar or two. Loyal Staff be damned.

  • Patrickk

    says:

    Tiemka how quickly forget Virgin’s bidding war and Brisbane $200m, so called corporate welfare is normal because states/cities get it all back in fees and taxes over the long term. As Jetstar will be a big user of western Sydney I can see Liverpool council and the state government offering big sweeteners to a first mover of this scale and reputation.

  • (Mr) Juri Strante

    says:

    After 100 years of operation, it would be a smart gesture, now that BNE has an operational parallel runway, to return to Queensland. Considering the number of international flights QANTAS operates, currently being one to two hours flying time north of MEL and SYD, adds up to thousands of hours flying a shorter international distance each year from BNE. The domestic side of operations would not be affected considering the number of pax that have to fly either north or south to SYD to connect with intl flights. BNE airport has the area to accommodate QANTAS, and no doubt after Covid-19 many people will seriously be wondering what’s the advantage living south in two crowded cities with cold weather when Queensland has so many benefits.

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