Nearly 20,000 Qantas workers will receive a $5000 “one-off boost” as the airlines shares the spoils of its post-pandemic recovery.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce announced the handouts on Friday.
“It’s been a tough few years for everyone in aviation but we promised to share the benefits of the recovery once it arrived,” he said.
“Today, we’re announcing a one-off payment that goes some of the way to acknowledging the sacrifices our people have made, including long periods of no work and no annual wage increases. It also recognises the great work they are doing as we restart the airline, which has been challenging for everyone.
“This comes at a time when travel demand is rebounding but our people are facing a unique set of cost of living pressures, which frankly they’d be in a better position to handle if aviation hadn’t been so badly hit over the past two years. That’s now changing.”
The one-off payment is on top of permanent wage increases of 2 per cent being negotiated across Qantas, following a two-year wage freeze. Mr Joyce said the airline “can’t afford to permanently increase salaries” beyond the 2 per cent offer.
The recovery boost will be made after enterprise bargaining is finalised. It is not open to management and senior executives.
It also comes on top of share rights worth about $4500 awarded to non-executive employees as part of a recovery and retention program announced earlier in 2022.
“Getting our permanent cost base right is how we’re able to reinvest, which ultimately means more opportunity for our people,” Mr Joyce said.
“The structure of our business means many of our people see their salary increase significantly as their careers progress. That progression often relies on the business growing, so the recent investments we’ve announced in new aircraft and new ventures will see employees share in the benefit as the national carrier enters a new phase.”
The Qantas Group has announced cumulative losses of about $6 billion since the start of the pandemic. It expects to post another “significant annual loss” this financial year, although there has been big improvement in the second half of the year as travel demand rebounds.
That rebound was evident yet again at Melbourne and Brisbane airports on Friday, with another influx of passengers ahead of the July school holidays beginning.
Travellers were warned to expect long queues, delayed flights and lost baggage, as airports continue to adjust to the surge in demand and continue to rebuild their decimated workforces after thousands were laid off due to a lack of flights.
“Our forecast shows the July school holidays are going to be even busier than what we saw in April,” Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said.
“It’s terrific to see the ongoing demand for air travel. But we won’t sugar-coat the fact that the terminals will be busy during the school holidays, and there will be queues.”
Sydney Airport is forecasting more than two million passengers between June 24 and July 17, with 1.5 million of them expected to take a domestic flight.
Total passenger traffic recovered to 69 per cent of pre-COVID levels, the airport said.
Melbourne Airport is also expecting similar figures, with more than 2.1 million people predicted to pass through its terminals.
“The root cause of these challenges is that every business at the airport is rebuilding its workforce and doing it in the tightest jobs market in nearly half a century,” Mr Culbert said.
Qantas has borne the brunt of travellers’ ire on social media in recent days, with many reporting missing missing and delayed flights.
On Thursday, the airline said it was “pulling out all stops and working with airports and suppliers to ensure the upcoming holiday period is not impacted by the significant disruptions that customers faced over Easter”.
Along with its budget subsidiary Jetstar, it has recruited more than 1000 operational team members with 20 per cent more staff on stand-by rosters than during the Easter period.