Virgin adds jobs and flights as Qantas cuts its international crew

Virgin will hire another 250 workers and add 700 more flights to its roster as Qantas announced increased redundancies and wage freezes for two years.

May 20, 2021, updated May 20, 2021
Qantas will bring back its entire workforce and ramp up its schedule

Qantas will bring back its entire workforce and ramp up its schedule

Virgin’s chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka has also apologised for her comments earlier in the week that Australia should open its borders even though some people might die.

She said her comments were hurtful to some people.

“The vulnerable need to be protected before international borders open,” she said.

The increase in Virgin’s schedule would mean more flights to the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Townsville, the Gold and Sunshine coasts and Brisbane.

The jobs were likely to be for pilots, ground handling crew and IT workers.

Qantas said it was 90 per cent through a plan to reduce its workforce by 8500 but it would add to that with a redundancy program for its international cabin crew which it expected would generate “several hundred” applications.

Meanwhile, Virgin said it would add another 700 flights to its schedule and hire an additional 250 workers.

The new flights include Adelaide and Perth to Cairns, Sydney to Darwin and Melbourne and Sydney to Townsville.

“That’s five new services, which is fantastic, but we’re also growing frequencies in markets we already serve,” Hrdlicka said.

Earlier this week Virgin announced it was deferring the start of most of its international flying until December.

Qantas would extend the pain to travel agents through a plan to lower its front-end commissions on international tickets from 5 per cent to 1 per cent, which is expected to hit companies like Flight Centre and Webjet.

That won’t come into force until 2022.

Qantas expects to post a loss of $2 billion, but said it had seen a sustained rebound in domestic demand and would be cash-flow positive for the second half of this year. Revenue from its domestic operations was expected to double between the first and second halves of this year.

The total revenue loss from COVID-19 restrictions was projected to be $16 billion by the end of this year.

Assuming there would be no further lockdowns or significant domestic travel restrictions, Qantas said it would have positive underlying earnings in the range of $400 million to $450 million this year.

Its corporate travel sector was now at 75 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels and leisure travel was growing strongly. It expected to reach 95 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity in the fourth quarter and would exceed the previous levels in 2022.

Chief executive Alan Joyce said there was still a long way to go in the recovery, but it did appear that the company had started to turn the corner.

“We’ve adjusted our expectations for when international borders will start opening based on the Government’s new timeline, but our fundamental assumption remains the same – that once the vaccine rollout is effectively complete Australia can and should open up,” Joyce said.

“No one wants to lose the tremendous success we’ve had at managing COVID but rolling out the vaccine totally changes the equation. The risk then flips to Australia being left behind when countries like the US and UK are getting back to normal.”










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