Despite several employment programs that Qantas has, 85% of the airline’s stood-down pilots have not been able to find jobs elsewhere, said the head of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA).
In a podcast with Australian Aviation, Mark Sedgwick, the head of AIPA, said that being an airline pilot in Australia during the pandemic meant being redundant. According to a survey done in June 2020, a mere 15% of stood-down pilots have managed to find jobs. Sedgwick also said that most of them were “drawing on leave” or “taking JobKeeper” ‒ a government subsidizing program for companies to retain their employees.
“In recognition of the significant impact of the COVID crisis on its people, the Group has put a variety of support mechanisms in place,” the airline has previously highlighted in their financial report, released on August 20. Among them, the group promised to work with other companies to find secondary employment for their employees.
Interestingly, the Australian Fair Work Act, established in 2009, states that if an employer asks their part-time or full-time employee not to work, they would be entitled to payment. However, under the circumstances that an employee cannot do any useful work, they can be simply stood down without pay. Accordingly, Qantas is not obliged to follow through with its word from the perspective of law.
In the podcast, Sedgwick has also mentioned that the data regarding the stood-down pilot employment status is due for a review.
However, the situation does not seem to be getting much better any time soon. Qantas expects to finalize 4,000 out of its 6,000 jobs cuts by the end of September 2020, while continuing to stand down the remainder of its planned 15,000 employees.
Likewise, on August 20, 2020, the company announced a statutory loss of nearly $2 billion between April and the end of June of the same year, while the majority of the carrier’s fleet is stored in California in order to save on maintenance costs.
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