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25.06.2020 Europe

Pilots, baggage handlers sent packing as Qantas slashes 6,000 jobs

LISTEN JUN 25, 2020

Australian national airline Qantas on Thursday announced plans to cut 6,000 jobs as part of a raft of “painful decisions” the company has made to weather the Covid-19 crisis.

Pilots, cabin crew, engineers, baggage handlers and corporate staff will all be hit as Qantas repositions itself as a “smaller airline”, slashing some 20 percent of its workforce. 

A further 15,000 staff will be temporarily stood down – half of which are expected to return to work by the end of 2020. Jetstar, the company's budget carrier, will also be affected.

“The job losses we're announcing today are confronting,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, adding that only half of the company's international services may be back to pre-virus levels by mid-2021.

“Most airlines will have to restructure in order to survive, which also means they'll come through this leaner and more competitive. For all these reasons, we have to take action now.”

Planes sent into desert storage
As part of its three-year plan to survive the historic slump in global travel, Qantas will ground at least 100 aircraft for a year – perhaps longer. 

Its flagship A380 jumbo jets will spend the next few years in a storage facility in the Mojave Desert, in the United States, while its Boeing 747 aircraft will be retired six months early.

However unions in Australia argued it was "too soon" for Qantas to slash so many jobs, saying workers' salaries should be protected.

“This is not a sector that the government can afford to let fail,” the Transport Workers' Union said. “This is a sector that has to be ready to open us, particularly our geography as an island at one end of the world.”

Air France, which is also facing thousands of job cuts, was forced to abruptly retire its entire A380 fleet in May.

Eleven years after it entered service at the company, the A380 will take to the skies with Air France for a final farewell flight on Friday.

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