The government’s new wage subsidy for those working in international aviation will pay employees $500 per week – the same rate as JobKeeper.
Qantas’ chief executive of international, Andrew David, revealed the news at a town hall-style meeting on Thursday before it had been officially confirmed by the federal government.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison first announced last week there would be a wage subsidy for those working in international aviation when JobKeeper expires at the end of March, but it was not then known how generous the payment would be.
The payment is set to apply to pilots and other crew and will last until international borders reopen, which is currently planned for the end of October.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said, “We are disappointed that this information has not come from the government and is instead being drip-fed by the main beneficiary, Qantas. The money to pay Qantas’ wage bill comes on top of the $1.2 billion bailout the federal government has already given the airline.
“Back last year when Virgin was on its knees Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the federal government ‘can’t pick winners’ when it comes to rescuing some companies. It is appears that this is precisely what Mr Joyce has convinced the federal government to do as this support package is overwhelmingly paying Qantas’ wage bill.
“We want to know how the federal government expects domestic workers at Qantas, Virgin and the many aviation service operators to survive without a wage support.”
Kaine’s comments follow those by Rex deputy chairman John Sharp who branded the deal a “Qantas deal”.
The package of measures also includes 800,000 half-price airfares to 13 tourism destinations including the Gold Coast, Whitsundays and Merimbula; cheap loans to small business coming off JobKeeper; and a six-month extension of the ‘RANS’ and ‘DANS’ supplemented routes initiative.
Despite opposition from unions, the deal was backed by key industry groups representing airports, national airlines and regional aviation.
Australian Airports Association (AAA) chief executive James Goodwin said, “Anything that can fill seats and put more aircraft in the sky is a good thing and will have flow-on effects for the airport sector.
“It’s been just over a year since COVID-19 hit and during this time, all airports have been doing it extremely tough. They’ve been in major need of support and are grateful the federal government has listened to their calls with this new package.”
However, Goodwin also said the government should focus on getting international borders to open “as quickly as possible”.
“It’s crucial for the government to start working with industry on a plan to reopen the border so that we can be ready to go,” he added.
Meanwhile, Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) called the package a “vital lifeline” and the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) said it “welcomes the announcement” of further support.