Alan Joyce has used the airline’s AGM to put unions on notice that he expects employees to be flexible on new work agreements. The Qantas CEO wants cheaper labour to compete with a post-administration Virgin Australia and help offset the severe financial challenges facing the airline. Unions reacted angrily to the demand saying that Qantas is trying to take advantage of the pandemic. It will be interesting to see how workplace dispute resolution plays out at Qantas post COVID-19 but with 18000 staff still stood down employees are likely to have little bargaining power.

Qantas also said ongoing state border restrictions were delaying Australia’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Alan Joyce continues to campaign for state borders to reopen. He said harsh closures by both Queensland and Western Australian states had cost the airline $100 million in lost earnings and stifled the recovery of the domestic travel market. Qantas was expecting domestic travel capacity to be operating at 60 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels, however continued border closures meant Qantas is only operating at 30 per cent compared to October 2019.

Qantas anticipates that European and North American flights will be out of action until the end of 2021 while both regions struggled to contain the virus. However, the national carrier is hopeful travel bubbles with certain Asian and South Pacific countries will start soon. When international travel does eventually return Qantas expects that their market share will grow as overseas competitors take a conservative approach to capacity and focus on opportunities closer to their own home markets. Qantas is also looking at potential new domestic and international routes that had never been part of Qantas’s travel network such as South Korea and Taiwan.

Qantas will move more of its operations to self-serve at airports to reduce contact between passengers and staff, and to cut costs. The airline has confirmed its service and sales desks will close at airports and in lounges with about 100 customer service staff being made redundancies among customer service staff.

Source: Qantas warns workers to face cuts so airline can stay ahead by Robyn Ironside The Australian Oct 23rd, Flights to UK, US unlikely for another year by Gerard Cockburn NCA Newswire Oct 23rd, Alan Joyce calls for Queensland to fully open by Robyn Ironside The Australian Nov 2nd, Qantas moves to airport self-serve by Robyn Ironside The Australian Nov 6th.

David Broadbridge

David Broadbridge holds a Bachelor of Commerce at the UNSW and a Dip Ed at UNE. He is the former Head Business Studies teacher at Pymble Ladies College. Follow David on Twitter or read his Qantas News Blog.