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Australia's Qantas and Jetstar to furlough 2,500 staff for two months

Australia's Qantas and Jetstar to furlough 2,500 staff for two months

Nearly 2,500 Jetstar and Qantas employees would reportedly be stood down for two months owing to domestic coronavirus border closures. According to reports, unions have criticized the decision as it comes just one day after the Australian government announced a wage assistance package.

Domestic pilots, cabin crew, and airport staff, primarily in New South Wales, will be stood down but will not lose their employment.

Due to the knock-on effects of the ongoing coronavirus crisis and resulting lockdowns across the greater Sydney area, Alan Joyce, Qantas' chief executive, expects the domestic borders to stay closed for at least two more months. Employees who are being furloughed will receive two weeks' notice and will be paid until the middle of August.

The news comes only a day after the Australian government announced a $100 million initiative to help domestic airlines keep their employees during lockdowns and border closures.

Under the new scheme, domestic airlines can claim $750 per week for half of their aircrew provided they can prove a 30% drop in business, since Sydney was named a national hotspot, and are having difficulty retrenching workers.

According to Joyce, the various programs imply that the 2,500 Qantas employees in domestic operations and 6,000 in foreign operations would get varying levels of help from either the new scheme or the Covid disaster payments.

Joyce also went on to clarify that engineers would not be stood down since they are needed for jet maintenance. However, he also acknowledged that any outsourced ground staff would not be eligible for the compensation. This also comes days after a federal court ruled against Qantas outsourcing being lawful.

During a news conference, Joyce justified the decision to stand down employees by citing the considerable government backing, which is on course to hit $2 billion, it has received during the pandemic.

However, unions are outraged by Qantas' decision. The Transport Workers' Union claimed in a tweet that the timing of the government's wage subsidy and Qantas' announcement on Tuesday showed the package was designed for the airline.

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Sunil Jha

Sunil Jha has been a part of the content industry for close to two years. Having previously worked as a voice over artist and sportswriter, he now focuses on writing articles for, across a slew of topics, ranging from technology to trade and finance. With a business-oriented educational background, Sunil brings forth the expertise of deep-dive research and a strategic approach in his write ups.