Qantas and Jetstar have confirmed the majority of their 30,000 employees will be asked to stand down until at least the end of May as global travel comes to a virtual standstill during the coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier this week, cuts to 90 per cent of international flying and about 60 per cent of domestic flying were announced by the carriers.
During the stand down, employees will be able to draw down on annual and long-service leave.
Additional support mechanisms will be introduced, including leave at half pay.
Employees with low leave balances at the start of the stand down will be able to access up to four weeks’ leave in advance of earning it.
However, periods of leave without pay for some employees are inevitable, Qantas said in a statement.
Senior group management executives and the board have increased their salary reductions from 30 per cent to 100 per cent until at least the end of this financial year, joining the chairman and group chief executive in taking no pay.
Annual management bonuses have also been cancelled.
Qantas Group chief executive, Alan Joyce, said: “The efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus have led to a huge drop in travel demand, the likes of which we have never seen before.
“This is having a devastating impact on all airlines.
“We’re in a strong financial position right now, but our wages bill is more than $4 billion a year.
“With the huge drop in revenue we’re facing, we have to make difficult decisions to guarantee the future of the national carrier.”
With the federal government now recommending against all overseas travel from Australia, regularly scheduled international flights will continue until late March to assist with repatriation.
They will then be suspended until at least the end of May.
As the national carrier, Qantas is in ongoing discussions with the government about continuation of some strategic links.
More than 150 aircraft will be temporarily grounded, including all of Qantas’ A380s, Boeing 747s and Boeing 787-9s and Jetstar’s B787-8s.
Discussions are progressing with airports and government about parking for these aircraft, Qantas said.
Essential domestic, regional and freight connections will be maintained as much as possible.
Joyce added: “The reality is we’ll have 150 aircraft on the ground and sadly there’s no work for most of our people.
“Rather than lose these highly skilled employees who we’ll need when this crisis passes, we are instead standing down two-thirds of our 30,000 employees until at least the end of May.
“Most of our people will be using various types of paid leave during this time, and we’ll have a number of support options in place.
“We’re also talking to our partners like Woolworths about temporary job opportunities for our people.”
Given the current extraordinary circumstances, a decision has been made to defer payment of the shareholder dividend announced on February 20th from April until September.
This is in addition to the cancellation of the off-market buy back, previously announced.
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