Qantas stands down 2,500 staff as Covid halts domestic flights

The news comes as the country's most populous city, Sydney, continues to be hit hard by rising infections 

Qantas Airways has temporarily furloughed 2,500 employees for two months while Australia’s Covid restrictions curtail the demand for domestic travel. 

Although the move directly impacts domestic pilots, cabin crew and airport workers, primarily from New South Wales, the airline has reassured workers that no job losses are expected.  

Photo Qantas

In a recent statement, the carrier said it had gone from operating almost 100% of its pre-COVID domestic flying capacity in May, to less than 40% in July due to the reimplementation of strict lockdowns. 

A further 6,000 colleagues from its international division have already been placed on furlough due to border closures. Those affected will be forced to rely on income support in the form of government disaster payments.  

Alan Joyce, Qantas Group’s CEO, said the difficult decision reflected the reality currently confronting many businesses operating in the region.   

“This is clearly the last thing we want to do, but we’re now faced with an extended period of reduced flying and that means no work for a number of our people,” he said. “We’ve absorbed a significant amount of cost since these recent lockdowns started and continued paying our people their full rosters despite thousands of cancelled flights. 

“Hopefully, once other states open back up to South Australia and Victoria in the next week or so, and the current outbreak in Brisbane is brought under control, our domestic flying will come back to around 50 to 60 per cent of normal levels.”