The TWU has called for the Commonwealth to take an equity stake in Qantas as the airline posted a $1.8 billion loss for the 2020-21 financial year, and accepted $1.1 billion in government aid.
According to the TWU, Qantas has now received over $2 billion in aid from the federal government through wage subsidies, financial support and fee-waiving since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
The union suggested that the government taking an equity stake in the national flag carrier could “guarantee aviation jobs and protect taxpayer money”, as it fears ongoing lockdowns could see the airline continue to bleed cash and put workers in jeopardy.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the federal government has “disproportionately doled out cash to Qantas without ensuring a return for the public’s investment”.
“Instead, Scott Morrison stood idly by while Qantas ripped off workers and unlawfully sacked them. Even Qantas’ own documents revealed fears of federal government repercussions for axing workers after receiving bailouts, but the silence was deafening from Scott Morrison,” Kaine said.
“Qantas has tried to deflect from the support it will need by exploiting the public’s wishes to visit family overseas by rushing out promises of international borders opening, but this is not the Republic of Qantas and the federal government has made no such commitment.
“When Alan Joyce inevitably comes banging on the door of Parliament House cap in hand for more public dollars, the Prime Minister must ensure any further funding comes with an equity stake to cap CEO salaries, protect jobs and ensure a good, safe carrier for taxpayers.
“The government must now do what it should have done months ago and make certain that Australians’ taxes are not used to fund Qantas’ expensive lawyers to help it get away with abusing workers.
“Future bailouts must come with conditions to drop plans for a costly appeal and reinstate illegally sacked workers that want their jobs back.”
Despite the TWU’s concerns, Qantas is optimistic of an imminent return to profitability, after achieving $650 million in ongoing annual savings through cost-cutting exercises, and is already preparing to cash in on the opening of borders.
Qantas has optimistically stated that both international and domestic borders are on track to open by December 2021 off the back of Australia’s current fast-paced vaccine rollout.
According to projections completed by the airline, Australia is set to reach 80 per cent vaccination in its adult population by December, allowing both state and international border restrictions to ease.
However, Qantas did note that the international re-opening is likely to be “gradual”, with a focus on low-risk countries first, including those with high vaccination uptake including the UK, US, and parts of Asia.
From mid-December, Qantas and Jetstar will reinstate international schedules between Australia and low-risk countries, including Singapore, the US, Japan, the UK, Canada and Fiji.
The airline is also reinstating services between Australia and New Zealand, projecting a re-start of the currently paused trans-Tasman travel bubble, also in December.
Meanwhile, Qantas has pushed back its planned return to higher-risk destinations, such as Bali, Bangkok, Manila and Johannesburg, until April 2022.
“Levels of travel demand – and therefore, capacity levels – will hinge largely on government decisions on alternative requirements to mandatory hotel isolation for fully vaccinated travellers,” Qantas noted.