Qantas suspends aircraft deliveries, extends staff stand-downs

Qantas has announced a halt to the delivery of more than thirty aircraft it had on order, including twelve A350s it had planned for its London and New York to Sydney routes.

The Australian carrier has also extended the standing-down of staff and the cancellations of most domestic flights, through to July.

Aviation is one of the industries suffering the most as a result of coronavirus with bans on traveling overseas, while flying domestically has become virtually impossible with state border closures.

Airlines have already reacted to this drastic decline in customers, with Qantas and Jetstar flights grounded since the end of March.

As a result, thousands of staff have been stood down.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told Nine News these decisions were among the toughest decision he had ever had to make.

“What we’ve seen is a real collapse of the international bookings and with the government travel bans nobody is traveling from Australia out and in to Australia now,” he said.

“We are also seeing a big collapse with domestic so, unfortunately, we don’t have work for two-thirds of staff, twenty thousand people.”

Mr Joyce said it had been a challenge breaking the news to staff.

“I sent a note, which was one of the hardest notes I’ve ever had to write – we had communications from all of our managers directly to them, we did a webinar with all of the staff, which you can imagine with thirty thousand people all over the globe travelling, it’s very hard to communicate to the directly,” he said.

“We also talk directly to the unions about exactly what we are doing.”

Mr Joyce said that he is in contact with big retailers seeking their support in providing temporary employment for Qantas staff.

“They are also thankful that we are talking to some of our partners: Woolworths, Coles, Telstra, Commonwealth Bank, who need people because of changes to their business, and trying to get them temporary jobs in between them being able to get the aircraft back in the air and back working for Qantas.”

Even though the strict travel bans have now been fully implemented and non-Australian residents are not allowed to enter the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is working closely with Qantas to ensure Australians still overseas can head back home safely, which will allow some Qantas staff to remain at their workplace.

“I want to thank Qantas also, who are offering to work with us to ensure that they maintain fights from the particular parts of the world to assist Australians return to Australia. And we’ll be working closely with them, and those Australian who are overseas, we’ve been encouraging them to return to Australia,” he told a media conference.

“Those in the more remote parts of the world, that could prove more challenging, but for those in another places, it is our intention to ensure that we can maintain flights to enable them to come home as soon as possible.”

Mr Joyce said he had received a lot of support and understanding from staff.