The ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in Australia have led to about 2500 Qantas and Jetstar employees being stood down without salaries for two months. Qantas said that this was a short-term measure to tackle the losses caused by a significant drop in flying volume. The greater Sydney lockdown and further border closures in all other states and territories are to blame for this.
Domestic pilots, cabin crew, and airport workers mostly in NSW, but also in other states because of the nature of airline networks will be gravely impacted by the stand down. However, Qantas reassured that two weeks’ notice would be given to affected employees before the stand-down takes effect, with pay continuing until mid-August. Engineers will continue to work to ensure safe travel and keep the airline serviced. As of now, no job losses are expected.
Qantas and Jetstar had operated at 100 percent of their usual domestic flying in May and now, in July, it was operating less than 40 percent because of lockdowns in three states - Sydney, Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia. Around the same time in 2020, more than 20,000 Qantas employees had been stood down and a large number of aircraft were in hibernation for months.
Alan Joyce, Qantas Chief Executive maintained that job lay-offs are the last option to consider but an extended period of reduced flying could mean no job for a number of people. However, he assured that once the lockdown is removed and the borders reopened, employees will be reinstated as the business needs them. Currently, Qantas is making decisions on the assumption that NSW Border will not be opened for another two months.
Emeline Gaske, Australian Services Union assistant national secretary stated that the stand-off decision was disastrous for the employees of Qantas and Jetstar because they have exhausted their savings, sold their houses, and are currently using SuperAnnuation funds since the ruinous waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. She had asked the federal government to support the aviation workers under its latest relief measures.
Joyce said that Australia’s coronavirus vaccination rollout will be a determinant factor in deciding when to resume international travel. He urged Australians to get vaccinated so that the lockdowns become a thing of the past. Joyce was pleased by the federal government measure like income support in the form of government disaster payments to help the eligible employee in times of predicament