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Qantas begins axing 6000 jobs after $4b pandemic hit

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Qantas will sack 4000 workers next month and another 2000 are in the firing line, after taking a $4 billion hit from from pandemic-imposed travel restrictions in what CEO Alan Joyce says has been the airline’s toughest six months in its 100 year history.

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“We are sadly progressing reductions of our workforce and 4000 people will leave the organisation by the end of September,” Joyce said.

“We’ve had to make some very tough decisions in the past few months to guarantee our future. At least 6000 of our people will leave the business through no fault of their own, and thousands more will be stood down for a very long time.”

The carrier’s 2019/20 profit plunged 91 per cent and Joyce warns this financial year will again be a tough one, with international travel unlikely before July 2021.

But he remains positive about the outlook for Qantas and its Jetstar subsidiary following its restructuring and once restrictions are eased domestically and internationally.

“The Flying Kangaroo wings are clipped for now but it’s still got plenty of ambition and we plan to deliver on it,” Joyce told reporters on Thursday.

The airline reported an underlying profit before tax of $124 million for the 2019/20 financial year compared with $1.33 billion the year before.

“The impact of COVID on all airlines is clear,” he said.

“It’s devastating and it will be a question of survival for many.”

It had scored a $771 million pre-tax profit in the first half of the year before things fell apart.

About 20,000 Qantas and Jetstar staff remain stood down, from a pre-pandemic workforce of around 30,000.

“(The result) reflects a strong first half of the year followed by a near-total collapse in travel demand and a $4 billion drop in revenue in the second half due to the COVID-19 crisis and associated border restrictions,” Qantas said.

The national carrier’s statutory net loss was $1.96 billion.

On a pre-tax basis, the loss was $2.7 billion, including $1.4 billion in asset writedowns and $600 million in redundancies.

Its A380 aircraft are in long-term storage in the US and its 747s have been retired six months ahead of schedule.

“Despite the recent setbacks, we know conditions will ultimately improve and the hard decisions we’ve made so far are about making sure that the Qantas Group is ready to take part in that recovery,” Joyce said.

Qantas says given current border restrictions, 20 per cent of pre-COVID domestic capacity is scheduled for August.

Recent sales activity shows there will be high demand when those restrictions are eased.

But the company’s international network is unlikely to restart before July 2021, although the trans-Tasman route could start earlier.

-with AAP

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