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‘A great time to join’: Qantas on big recruitment drive

Qantas posts record half-year profit

Australia’s national carrier is on the hunt for 8500 aviation industry workers as it progressively boosts its aircraft fleet to meet demand for travel – and just two years after it sacked thousands of staff.

Some 2000 of the new jobs – for cabin crew, pilots, engineers and other operations roles – will be created in the next 18 months, Qantas announced on Friday.

Qantas has 23,500 employees and projects that number will grow to 32,000 by 2033 to support the expected delivery of 299 narrowbody and 12 widebody planes across the same period.

“We order aircraft up to 10 years in advance, so we need to think similarly long-term about the people and skills we need to operate them,” CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.

“Over the next 18 months, we expect to create more than 2000 new jobs plus replacing natural attrition, so if you’ve ever wanted to work in aviation or at the national carrier, now’s a great time to join.”

Last week, the national carrier posted a statutory net profit of $1 billion for the six months to December 31, compared to a $456 million net loss a year earlier.

At the height of the pandemic, Qantas laid off 9000 workers, creating a knock-on effect when travel resumed with delayed flights, lost baggage and a string of emergency landings.

It received a government COVID-19 bailout to the tune of $2 billion.

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Mr Joyce defended the pandemic move, crediting it with helping to save the airline.

“A lot of people left the industry anyway because there was no work for nearly three years,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Friday.

“What we are now doing is recruiting to fill that gap. But also, more importantly, it’s to actually take up the growth that we are going to have, because we are going to have a lot of new aircraft flying a lot of new routes.”

Qantas has also announced it will set up a Qantas Group Engineering Academy in Australia to train up to 300 engineers a year for itself and the broader aviation industry.

It will need about 200 engineering recruits a year in the next 10 years.

Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor welcomed the Qantas announcement.

“Wherever you look there is a skills gap, and according to the OECD, Australia has the second highest labour supply shortage,” he said.

“This is a major economic challenge. But it is also an opportunity of a lifetime for people to get the right skills for jobs that are in demand.”

There was a mixed reception to Friday’s announcement from unions.

“For years our union has been crying out for investment in the skills of tomorrow, but good news on that front has been sparse in recent times. Today’s announcement represents a very welcome turning point,” Australian Workers’ Union national secretary Daniel Walton said.

“It takes a long time to train aviation engineers, so today’s investment creates a long pipeline that will result in good quality Australian jobs for many years to come.”

But the Transport Workers Union said the airline would struggle to rebuild its workforce and reputation after axing decades of experience.

“Qantas will never return to the airline it once was,” national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“After $2.7 billion of taxpayer funding and a $1.4 billion half-year profit, the airline should be back to full capacity and airfares at pre-COVID prices, but that is impossible with a decimated and inexperienced workforce.

“Customers, workers and the taxpaying public have a right to be angry.”

The TWU urged the airline to reinstate workers on previous pay arrangements, instead of trying to rehire new workers on inferior terms to plug gaps.

Overall, Qantas is seeking 4500 cabin crew, 1600 pilots, 800 engineers and 1600 other workers for operational roles in the next decade.

-with AAP

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