May 22, 2012
Qantas Airways has flagged more job losses after confirming it will cut 500 maintenance positions.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the decision to stop heavy maintenance at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport, which will save between $70 million and $100 million a year, was due to the airline's more modern fleet requiring less work.
''This is clearly no jobs going offshore. This is work that no longer exists,'' Mr Joyce said.
''I believe this decision answers our business requirements, while ensuring we maintain a strong Qantas engineering capability.''
That failed to impress Australian Workers Union Victorian branch secretary Cesar Melham, who called on the federal government to intervene. ''This should be done in the interests of our nation's capability and future security,'' Mr Melham said.
''We have no guarantees from Qantas about how they will ensure the long-term viability of aircraft maintenance in this country.''
Brisbane will now conduct heavy maintenance on Qantas's Boeing 737s, which were previously maintained at Tullamarine, as well as Airbus A330s. Mr Joyce said Tullamarine had no scheduled heavy maintenance work between August this year and January next year.
Qantas said the introduction of new technology and modern aircraft was expected to reduce its heavy maintenance workload by 60 per cent over the next seven years.
Mr Joyce said this almost certainly meant Qantas would eventually move to a single heavy maintenance facility, with Brisbane the front-runner.
While no timeframe was put on when this would occur, that puts Qantas's Avalon site in the spotlight.
Avalon will remain open for now - doing heavy maintenance work on Boeing 747s, aircraft reconfiguration work and any overflow jobs from Brisbane - but its future looks uncertain.
The airline said the retirement on five 747s this year meant about 130 jobs would no longer be required at Avalon.
''We do expect there will be further changes to Avalon as our business continues to modernise,'' Mr Joyce said.
The decision to close Tullamarine came after a review of Qantas's three maintenance facilities that started in February.
Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union national secretary Paul Bastian said Qantas' decision was short-sighted. ''Not only does it have a devastating impact on workers at Tullamarine and their families, it threatens the very capability of Australia to continue to maintain its aircraft,'' he said.
Qantas said it would offer voluntary redundancies, relocation packages for affected workers interested in going to Brisbane, and redeployment to other roles within the company.
However, compulsory redundancies were expected.
On a more positive note, Qantas said it would have 30 new positions available in line maintenance in Melbourne and five jobs being created in Sydney.
''Consolidating heavy maintenance and other engineering initiatives will give us savings of between $70 [million] and $100 million per year,'' Mr Joyce said.AAP